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!