Louis Vuitton bugged by locust sculptures in Japan


Nine locust sculptures crafted by artist Mitsuhiro Okamoto from knockoff designer bags were removed from the Kobe Fashion Museum after luxury fashion maker Louis Vuitton complained the art violated its trademark:


The sculptures, which measure about 40 centimeters (16 in) long, are titled "Batta Mon" -- a play on the words batta ("locust") and battamon (slang for "knockoff"). According to the artist, the works are meant to raise questions about the relationship between authenticity and imitation in a consumer-driven society.

The exhibit opened on April 15, and included a number of iconic brand logos, not just LVMH. The locusts were yanked within the first 30 days.

More on Pink Tentacle, and the earlier report in Japanese at Asahi. The artist's website has a section about the Batta Mon sculptures here. (thanks, Antinous!).



  1. This is just a cursory thought, but wouldn’t this exhibit qualify for the “Fair Use” exemption of copyright law as a parody? (Unless Louis Vuitton and others plan on releasing insects covered in their trade dress later this year???)

    Perhaps Japanese law doesn’t recognize this use as a legitimate exception?

    Simply a thought…

    1. Yes, this would be considered fair use. Although, LVMH probably has good lawyers (to match their poor sense of humor and lack of irony) who were able to compel the artist to comply. It’s sad.

      re: “Louis Vuitton, you’re biting the hand that feeds you!”

  2. Oh for crying out loud! The symbolism is obvious: locust multiply by the thousands, take away crops and destroy wealth. Counterfeit items multiply by the thousands, take away legitimate business and destroy wealth. Louis Vuitton, you’re biting the hand that feeds you!

  3. Somewhere in China they’re tooling up to produce knock off LV locusts. Heck, I’d buy one.

  4. Can Mitsuhiro Okamoto sue for loss of reputation and income as a result of initmidation by LVMH?

    You can’t tell me the land of CosPlay doesn’t have a fair-use provision.

    Below is an excerpt from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appropriation_(art) that I found looking up Andy Warhol and copyright. Soup anyone?

    In his decision, Judge Louis L. Stanton of U.S. District Court found that Niagara was indeed a “transformative use” of Blanch’s photograph. “The painting’s use does not ‘supersede’ or duplicate the objective of the original”, the judge wrote, “but uses it as raw material in a novel way to create new information, new aesthetics and new insights. Such use, whether successful or not artistically, is transformative.”

  5. Hello everyone. I have created a work of art. My intent wa–**COOOOPPPYYYRRIIHGGGHHTTHTHHGTTTTT!!!**

    I have written a song. It goes something li–**COOOOPPPYYYRRIIHGGGHHTTHTHHGTTTTT!!!**

    I found this and thought I would share it with y–**COOOOPPPYYYRRIIHGGGHHTTHTHHGTTTTT!!!**



  6. Vitton marketing oppurtunity fail. They should have given the artist some Real bags and sponsored him to do some more work, mentioning in passing that the Vitton bags were much better made and showed superior quality.

    Unless of course they don’t…

  7. Shame- I like these; they work well on several levels. Of course, I would never have known about this work unless LV hadn’t done it’s bollocks censorship thing- so there’s that.

    Ironically, LV has worked with Japanese artists before (Takashi Murakami being a prominent example).

    1. i read that when asked what he thinks his most remarkable and enduring artwork was, murakami replied that it was pulling off the deal with louis vitton.

  8. Just a note fellow commenters, even the excerpt above states that it was a trademark complaint and not a copyright complaint. It may be that there are exceptions in trademark laws for fair use, but they would be distinct from those in copyright laws.

    1. AFAIK there’s no ‘fair use’ exception when it comes to trademarks, but one has to remember that the protection and scope of trademarks is a LOT narrower.

      The basic principle here is: Would someone buy one of these things under the false impression that it was made by Louis Vuitton? I think the answer to that is a simple no, so it’s not a violation.

      This is a bone-headed move from LV. Campbell’s didn’t sue Andy Warhol, and they ended up being a lot better off for it, as well.

  9. so trademark law has developed to the point that an artist can’t make a comment on something directly anymore?

  10. That’s it! I’m boycotting all Louis Vuitton products. Well, I would, but I don’t think my boycott is going to hurt them. Public school teachers can’t afford LV. (and even if i could afford it, i would know better) Cute bugs however.

  11. That top hopper is Gucci, not LV. I wonder what the powers of Gucci had to say, since they’ve been “rehabbing” their brand for the last decade due to over-saturation in the ’80’s. LV will be doing the same soon enough.

  12. When I look at the art piece, sure I think of fair use, unfair copyright, etc.

    … yet the art piece was probably for sale, which helps me understand Louis V a bit more. A lot of the appeal of the piece as a product comes from Louis Vuitton signature pattern. It’s not really a full fledged parody. I could probably print the LV design in any number of unlikely products and sell them quite well without calling them art or parody… be it teddy bears, cars, guitars, toilet paper, condoms, etc.

    And yes, it’s a trademark case because they were using the VL logo… not a copy of a product.

  13. Well LV and your lawyers’ packdog mentality. You are an unmitigated douche. Art trumps your tacky consumerism every day of the week.

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