Use of Imitation Handbag in “Hangover Part II” Movie Scene Did not Infringe Vuitton’s Trademarks

In a much-discussed decision issued last Friday, a federal court in New York City dismissed fashion accessory designer and manufacturer Louis Vuitton’s trademark infringement and related claims against Warner Brothers Entertainment based on the use of an imitation Vuitton handbag in a scene in the Warner Brothers film The Hangover: Part II. Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc., No. 11 Civ. 9436 (S.D. N.Y. June 15, 2012). The court based its dismissal on Rogers v. Grimaldi, 875 F.2d 994 (2d Cir. 1989), in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects a defendant’s use of “artistic works” against liability under the federal Lanham Act, so long as the defendant’s use of the mark is (1) “artistically relevant” to the work and (2) not “explicitly misleading” as to the source or content of the work.

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