Louis Vuitton is well-known for its abusive trademark enforcement, but its latest legal adventure is unbelievable. The luxury goods company threatened the University of Pennsylvania Law School after a student group parodied the LV monogram on a poster for a trademark law symposium.
"This egregious action is not only a serious willful infringement and knowingly dilutes the LV Trademarks, but also may mislead others into thinking this type of unlawful activity is somehow 'legal' or constitutes 'fair use' because the Penn Intellectual Property Group is sponsoring a seminar on fashion law and 'must be experts'," wrote LV lawyer Michael Pantalony in a cease and desist letter. "I would have thought the Penn Intellectual Property Group, and its faculty advisors, would understand the basics of intellectual property law."
The poster, titled "Fashion Law", takes the distinctive LV monogram and replaces its iconography with copyright and trademark symbols. The symposium takes place March 20 in Philadelphia.
In a reply to Pantalony, the University's general counsel denied that the poster infringed LV's trademarks, describing the laws that establish the public right to parody—especially for noncommercial and educational purposes. He also invited Pantalony to attend the symposium so that he may learn more about intellectual property.
Don't Upset the Intellectual Property Fashion Police [Freedom to Tinker]