In dog toy suit, judge tells Louis Vuitton: Chew on this

November 16, 2006, 8:19 PM UTC
Fortune

In a, frankly, not-terribly-important trademark infringement ruling, French fashion designer Louis Vuitton has lost its bid to bar a company called Haute Diggity Dog from marketing monogrammed plush toys for canines under the label “Chewy Vuiton.”

Although a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia decided the case on November 3, I only just learned about it on Bill Patry’s Copyright Blog.

Judge James Cacheris wrote that the similarities between the toy’s design pattern–an array of four-pronged doo-dads and stylish emblems formed from an interlocking C and V–and Louis Vuitton’s trademarked “Canvas Monogram Pattern” were the sorts of parallels that are essential to any parody, and were not likely to lead consumers to believe that the pet products were actually made by the famous luxury retailer.

Haute Diggity Dog also sells parodic stuffed toys under the names Chewnel #5, Sniffany & Co., Vera Wag (in the shape of a high-heeled shoe), and Furari (shaped like a sports car).

The hurdle Louis Vuitton’s counsel could not seem to overcome in the case was a precedent set in 2002 when a Manhattan federal judge denied relief to merchandiser Tommy Hilfiger, which had tried to halt sales of a “pet perfume” called Timmy Holedigger. Lawyers will sometimes refer to a particularly apt precedent as being “on all fours with” the facts of their own case, but this must take the cake.