Penn Law intellectual property law group is set to hold a symposium on fashion law on March 20th, 2012. Noble cause, but check out the flyer…
Louis Vuitton caught a look at this, and immediately had their attorney, Michael Pantaloney send a cease-and-desist letter to Penn Law Dean Michael Fitts. The letter claims that the student group misappropriated and modified their trademarked monogram design. They are alleging serious willful infringement, trademark dilution by the school, and a resulting strong likelihood of confusion, particularly on the issues of what constitutes fair use, which is an important issue emerging from the new rights offered by the IDPPPA for fashion design. They are worried that because this is a group of educated professionals, that the public will believe copying their trademark in a similar way is also fair use, and that Louis Vuitton is an official sponsor of the symposium, which they are not.
Penn Law is standing behind its students, and responded by invoking the defenses of fair use and parody exception as provided by 15 U.S.C. 1125(c)(3) which allows the use of trademarks for noncommercial and parody purposes, and immunizes them from claims of dilution. They also assert that there is no legal basis for the claim that they violated 15 U.S.C. 1125(a) and created a likelihood of confusion. A copy of Penn Law’s response is below.
The school’s response was sent to LV counsel on March 2nd. No word yet on a response to either the claim or the Dean’s invitation to the symposium. Seems to me that this is a good example of fair use. It’s for noncommercial purposes and is a bit of a parody, as it contains the copyright symbol – (c) – as well as a “TM” emblazoned in the flyer’s monogram. It’s unlikely in my opinion that anyone might confuse Louis Vuitton as a sponsor, when the sponsor’s are listed right under the design, and consist mostly of law firms and organizations. However, it is an obvious use for decorative purposes, which I find to be different from say, Haute-Law.com’s use of a photo of the pattern to illustrate a point in one of our educational posts. It’s a big chance for the group to test the language of the new legislation, so we’re excited to see what happens.
Do YOU think it’s fair for the student group to use this mark?
Stay tuned for updates!
For those of you into fashion law in the Philly area, the symposium is set to discuss trademarks, copyrights and the new IDPPPA regarding fashion design. Wish we could be there!