Judge Gives Louis Vuitton Lesson In Film Comedy 101 In Dismissing ‘Hangover 2′ Lawsuit

The folks at monogram-loving handbag company Louis Vuitton are not famous for their sense of humor, especially when it comes to their oft-copied designs. And they certainly didn’t see what was so funny about a scene in Hangover 2 featuring a character carrying knock-off Louis Vuitton bags through the airport. Luckily, there’s a judge out there who understands comedy — and is willing to explain it, footnotes and all.

LV had brought a lawsuit against Warner Bros., claiming the popular 2011 comedy violated the company’s trademark, not by using the company’s products without permission, but by showing bags that only appear to be Louis Vuitton.

Late last week, the judge in the case granted Warner Bros. request for a dismissal… and took the time to explain just why.

Explaining that the threshold for “artistic relevance” is “purposefully low,” the judge stated that the movie’s use of the knock-off bag “meets this low threshold.”

Writes the judge:

Alan’s terse remark to Teddy to “[be] [c]areful” because his bag “is a Lewis Vuitton” comes across as snobbish only because the public signifies Louis Vuitton — to which the Diophy bag looks confusingly similar — with luxury and a high society lifestyle. His remark also comes across as funny because he mispronounces the French “Louis” like the English “Lewis,” and ironic because he cannot correcly pronounce the brand name of one of his expensive possessions, adding to the image of Alan as a socially inept and comically misinformed character. This scene also introduces the tension between Alan and Teddy that appears throughout the Film.

This section of the ruling also includes a lengthy footnote about how the Alan character later mispronounces Thailand as “Thigh land” during the rehearsal dinner.

Finally, explains the judge, “there is no likelihood of confusion that viewers would believe that the Diophy bag is a real Louis Vuitton bag just because a fictional character made this claim in the context of a fictional movie.”

You can read the entire ruling — sure to become required reading at film schools around the world – here.

Thanks to Keith!

Comments

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    Thank goodness for judges like this. Now where
    are my Foakley glasses and Timberlane shoes?

    • yankinwaoz says:

      How about that nice CANNON camera?

    • Coffee says:

      Blueskylaw’s rhetorical question to all of the commenters on Consumerist about “…where are my Foakley glasses and Timberlane shoes?” is intended to parody the judgment of the OP, not to imply that he does, in fact, own knock-off versions of either product. As such, it meets the purposefully low threshold for artistic relevance (barely), and – when coupled with his documented history of compulsive lying and braggadocio – cannot reasonably interpreted as a statement of fact.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        “his documented history of compulsive lying”

        It’s not lying, it’s TERMINOLOGICAL INEXACTITUDE!!!

        Winston Churchill

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Right over there next to my Kangal hat and Motorela phone.

    • jiubreyn says:

      Hearted.

    • Papa Midnight says:

      Foakly and Timberlane brand accessories and clothing can be found next to BUFU in Aisle 3.

  2. E-Jungle says:

    Omg, a judge with a brain…

  3. Darrone says:

    Great ruling, terrible movie.

    • bkginsu says:

      Seriously. How many times did they do the “I can’t believe this is happening again?!” schtick?

    • blogger X says:

      It was predictable, as I thought it would be. Good thing I waited it till it came on cable.

  4. crispyduck13 says:

    If you’re bored (like me) you can wander over here and check out a bunch of hilarious fake brand name pics all in one convenient place.

    Mitusbishi and the Numa sneakers were my personal faves.

  5. tinmanx says:

    Wow, common sense. Amazing.

  6. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    Slightly off topic — I don’t really get the appeal for LV bags. I’ve seen better designer bags that look the price. That said, I remember a friend saying it’s ironic how even the French themselves don’t care much about that brand…

    Anyhow, kudos to the judge!

    • baquwards says:

      Their only appeal is that they are expensive and covered with a logo so that others can see that you are carrying an expensive bag, trying to make them think that you are high class. Funny thing, people who have these obvious logos on their possessions are the least likely to have money or class.

      • Janus, Should I laugh or cry? says:

        “Funny thing, people who have these obvious logos on their possessions are the least likely to have money or class. “

        My kid frequently works with people who have a *lot* of money. In order for him to get the commissions, he has to dress like one of them (extremely expensive clothing and accouterments) so that the rich people are more comfortable (rich people hate having to apologize for their wealth). Sometimes he’s able to borrow incredibly expensive stuff but clothing he has to buy (sadly, clothing is not tax-deductible). I asked him how do people know the difference between an ordinary expensive and obscenely expensive article of clothing? Answer: An extremely small logo or artifact that one has to know to look for.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      I agree, the bags are ugly, And if you want me to wear or carry something with your brand name/trademark plastered all over it, I expect to be paid to advertise your product.

  7. Claybird says:

    Only “vintage” LV merch is actually cool.

  8. Buckus says:

    When the judge has to explain why it’s funny, the lawyers are doing it wrong.

  9. Morgan Le @ EasyFinance.com says:

    Louis Vuitton savoir-faire meets Diophy “Lewis Vuitton” laissez faire….

  10. TBGBoodler says:

    Reading this decision is fun even if just for the names of the other cases mentioned.

    Some of the good ones: Charles Atlas, Ltd. v. DC Comics, Inc; Hormel Foods Corp. v. Jim Henson Prods., Inc.; Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Inc. v. Pussycat Cinema, Ltd.

  11. MMD says:

    This ruling makes my day! May it set a precedent for all similarly bogus copyright claims in the future!