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Vol. 10 - Issue 3
April 28, 2021


My Dog, Gracie, Owes Thanks To The Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeals

Gracie Maniloff

I took our dog, Gracie, for a walk not long ago and she insisted on talking along her Chewy Vuiton bag.  I know, it’s super cute. But then, after five minutes, she drops it, and then dear old dad has to carry it the rest of the way.

Now, it you’re thinking that the fancy Louis Vuitton people are not amused by a dog toy, shaped like a pocketbook, that calls itself Chewy Vuiton, and contains a design that resembles Louis Vuitton’s iconic LV logo, you would be correctamundo. They made a federal case out of it.  Literally.  Louis Vuiton filed suit against Haute Diggity Dog, LLC, the manufacturer of the Chewy Vuiton toy.  And I always though the French loved dogs.

This bruhaha all took place a while ago and it ended up with a Fourth Circuit opinion in Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Haute Diggity Dog, LLC, 507 F.3d 252 (4th Cir. 2007).

Good news - Haute Diggity Dog won!  Gracie can carry her Chewy Vuiton toy without fear of its seizure. Or worse, being arrested.

The Fourth Circuit opinion is long and, as you would expect, takes a deep dive into intellectual property/trademark law and the right to parody.  I’ll set out a couple of paragraphs here, just to give you a sense of how the court saw it:

“In concluding that Haute Diggity Dog has a successful parody, we have impliedly concluded that Haute Diggity Dog appropriately mimicked a part of the LVM marks, but at the same time sufficiently distinguished its own product to communicate the satire. The differences are sufficiently obvious and the parody sufficiently blatant that a consumer encountering a ‘Chewy Vuiton’ dog toy would not mistake its source or sponsorship on the basis of mark similarity.”

“It is obvious that a ‘Chewy Vuiton’ plush imitation handbag, which does not open and is manufactured as a dog toy, is not a LOUIS VUITTON handbag sold by LVM. Even LVM’s most proximate products -- dog collars, leashes, and pet carriers -- are fashion accessories, not dog toys.”

Thanks to the Fourth Circuit, Gracie can stroll around the neighborhood in style.  At least for five minutes. 

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