Toymaker in suit with Louis Vuitton over poop-shaped purse

Luxury fashion label Louis Vuitton had claimed that the design of Poopsie Pooey Puitton (left) is a trademark infringement because its design marks and name are similar to those of its handbags.
Luxury fashion label Louis Vuitton had claimed that the design of Poopsie Pooey Puitton (above) is a trademark infringement because its design marks and name are similar to those of its handbags.

NEW YORK • Does Poopsie Pooey Puitton sound like a Louis Vuitton item?

American toymaker MGA Entertainment thinks not and has pre-emptively sued the French label's parent company, luxury stable LVMH, to ensure it can keep making Poopsie Pooey Puitton, its slime-filled plastic purse.

According to documents filed last week in Los Angeles federal court, Louis Vuitton had claimed that the toy's design is a trademark infringement because its design marks and name are similar to those of its handbags.

MGA argues not only is the toy obviously not a Louis Vuitton knock-off, but it is also meant to slime the lifestyle of the ultra-wealthy consumers who ascribe to the brand and thus should be protected as parody.

"Louis Vuitton and the LV marks are associated with expensive, high-end, luxury products that evoke wealth and celebrity," MGA's lawyer said in the complaint.

"The use of the Pooey name and product in association with a product line of 'magical unicorn poop' is intended to criticise or comment upon the rich and famous, and the Louis Vuitton name, the LV marks, and on their conspicuous consumption."

The toy is part of a line of Poopsie Surprise products, which include ingredients to make sparkly, magical "unicorn poop".

It was one of MGA's most successful new toys last year, according to court documents.

In its complaint, MGA delivered a detailed analysis of why no reasonable consumer would ever confuse Pooey Puitton for a Louis Vuitton product.

"Louis Vuitton handbags are not poop-shaped, are not made out of hardened plastic and do not depict three-dimensional cartoonish facial features such as elongated eyelashes and pouted lips.

"Louis Vuitton handbags are typically sold at price points significantly higher than that of the Pooey Product's suggested retail price of US$59.99 (S$81.40)."

The complaint also argued that Louis Vuitton "has a history of not respecting parody rights in the US and filing vexatious lawsuits against such protected parody", pointing to the brand's 2014 lawsuit against a small Los Angeles handbag company that printed high-end handbag designs on canvas tote bags.

The complaint also mentioned Louis Vuitton's lawsuit against Haute Diggity Dog, a pet toy company, over a line of Chewy Vuiton chew toys shaped like purses and high heels.

Louis Vuitton lost both cases.

MGA is no stranger to lawsuits either and is still tangled in a multi-year slog with Mattel over the designs of its Bratz dolls.

Based in Van Nuys, California, MGA is known for toys such as L.O.L. Surprise! and Little Tikes products.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2019, with the headline 'Toymaker in suit with Louis Vuitton over poop-shaped purse'. Print Edition | Subscribe