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Originally posted 2014-09-09 11:00:44.
By Breanna Pendilton | amdlawgroup.com
Last month, small Atlanta-based shoe designer, Antonio Brown, sued big time company, Louis Vuitton, for trademark infringement. Since the earlier months of 2013, Brown’s sneaker collection has been known for its distinctive metal plate placed across the toe box of its shoes. In February of this year, Louis Vuitton’s new “On the Road” collection made its debut with an all too familiar metal plate, placed right across the toe of the shoe.
Brown says that he has always admired the Louis Vuitton brand and that some of their own collections have inspired him as well. (We can see this though Brown’s use of the brand name “LVL XIII” which is very similar to the “LV”, which Louis Vuitton uses). Brown argues, however, that releasing their new collection into the market was detrimental to his brand through lost sales and confusion in the market place.
Trademark law not only protects the name of the brand, but the look of the brand as well when it serves as a source identifying function. Because trademark infringement turns on the likelihood of confusion, if Brown was the first person to use the metal plate, and if this is in fact how his customers identify his shoes from another, then Brown may have a case. Brown even said he had retail buyers and general customers asking him if he was collaborating with Louis Vuitton or if he had copied their shoes.
But according to Louis Vuitton, Brown has no case. After all, they are Louis Vuitton, right? Who is he? Well, he is Brown: a man whose high end sneakers retail for $500 to $1,200 a pair and who made almost $500,000 in sales in the first two months of business. (Which might not be hard to do when they cost that much!) He is also the man who, in fewer than two years, has had his shoes grace the feet of big time celebrities, like Chris Brown, Jason Derulo, and Tyson Beckford. This is the man who you just asked for an extension to file your answer, and who has granted that extension until September 22. Should Louis Vuitton be worried? Stay tuned!
AMD Law’s Tip of the Day: Even teachers can be put to the test!