Louis Vuitton Sues Artist Who Wants to Save Darfur

Everyone knows that Louis Vuitton hates copycats, but this is ridiculous.

Artist Nadia Plesner started her Simply Living campaign last October, selling posters and shirts depicting a Darfur victim. The twist is that the victim channels Paris Hilton, while carrying a chihuahua and a designer bag.

Her thought process for the project was this:

My illustration Simple Living is an idea inspired by the medias constant cover of completely meaningless things. My thought was: Since doing nothing but wearing designerbags and small ugly dogs appearantly is enough to get you on a magasine cover, maybe it is worth a try for people who actually deserves and needs attention.

One hundred percent of the profits go to Divest for Darfur, a foundation that helps the victims of the genocide. Pretty awesome, right?

Well, Louis Vuitton doesn’t think so.

According to Plesner’s website, the luxury goods company sent her a letter in February, demanding that she end the campaign immediately and referring to her website as “Exhibit 1.” Like any self-respecting artist, Plesner told them she wouldn’t comply with their request. So…..on April 15, they slapped her with a lawsuit. The company, which is known for aggressively fighting LV fakes, has demanded:

  • $7,500 for each day that Plesner continues the charity campaign
  • $7,500 for each day their letter is published on her website
  • $7,500 a day for using the Louis Vuitton name on her website

And that’s not all. They also want her to pay for their lawyers and $15,000 for damages.

I’m sorry to not be more eloquent, but they’re really a bunch of dicks. I don’t really buy their intellectual property argument. This is art, and it’s not even being sold for profit but, rather, to help human beings who are living under horrific conditions.

I find it totally frustrating that Louis Vuitton promotes their brand and image as iconic, practically acting like their product is integral to our civilization, but then pulls this kind of stuff when an artist portrays it as such. They can’t have it both ways. If they want to sell their goods as symbols of luxury, they should expect that artists would contrast that with symbols of human suffering.

They should be happy that their symbol is earning money for a worthy cause. Now go buy the stuff.




6 Comments so far
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Comment by Secretista

I take it Paris Hilton is going to slap her with a lawsuit too for using Tinkerbell’s image without permission?

Comment by Trendinista

Nice, LV. Really nice. Way to be a bunch of (even bigger) douchebags.

Comment by Lexita


Comment by MNE

[…] Is Louis Vuitton going to sue her like they did that woman who was trying to save Darfur? […]

Pingback by Louis Vuitton Doggy Bag: “Excess Baggage” by Meryl Smith « Threadtrend

A brother and sister who operated a retail store on the Santee Alley bargain strip in the Fashion District of Downtown say they were falsely accused of dealing in counterfeit merchandise and forced out of business by “malicious prosecution” pressed by representative of the Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior fashion labels.

George and Marijeanne Antounian recently filed a lawsuit against the two Paris, France-based luxury brand giants and their attorneys. The Antounians claim that a prior suit that the companies filed against them was itself unlawful.

A federal court eventally dismissed the lawsuit against the Antounians and awarded them approximately $70,000 in lawyer’s fees. That covered about half of what they spent on legal representation in fighting the case, according to a lawyer representing them in their suit against the luxury brands.

The Antounians are seeking unspecified damages from the companies in a malicious prosecution suit alleging that representatives of Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, and their respective lawyers, knew that allegations of copyright and trademark infringement against them were not true but nevertheless continued with the litigation.

The cost of the defending against the charges eventually forced the Antounian’s to close their Bijou Palace shop on the 1100 block of Santee Alley, according to the couple, who claim they were also forced to liquidate their inventory, a process that typically involves selling off merchandise at very low prices.

The Antounian’s malicious prosecution lawsuit claims that representatives of the two giant luxury labels hired a private investigation company called Investigative Consultants in 2005 to determine whether stores on Santee Alley were selling counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior wallets, purses, and other goods. An investigation of nearly two years led to the firm to wrongfully conclude that the Antounians had sold fake Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior products, according to the lawsuit. The Antounians claim that a video used in the investigation showed such counterfeit transactions occurring at adjacent stores and on the pathway of Santee Alley itself, but not at Bijou Palace.

“The Antounians’ store sold only costume jewelry and was not in the business of selling purses and wallets,” said Sean Macias, managing partner of Macias Counsel, Inc. in Glendale, and the lead attorney representing the Antounians.

William Salle, co-counsel for the Antounians, said that a member of the investigation team, Arianna Ortiz, admitted she provided false testimony in identifying Bijou Palace as one of the stores selling knockoff products.

“Ortiz alerted Kris Buckner, president of Investigative Consultants, and lead counsel Janine Garguilo for Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, of the errors in the investigation reports months before trial, but legal action still proceeded against the Antounians,” according to Salle.

The Antouians lawsuit also alleges that during a trial on accusations against them, in July 2007, Buckner testified that he never saw handbags, wallets, or sunglasses—or any Louis Vuitton or Christian Dior items—for sale at Bijou Palace.

“These were the same items that the Antounians and Bijou Palace were to have allegedly sold,” said Salle.

Macias said that efforts to combat counterfeiting of merchandise are understandable, but contended that his clients were wrongly caught up in the efforts.

“Maybe they wanted to send a message to would-be counterfeiters that they mean business,” Macias said. “Instead, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior succeeded only in destroying an innocent small business.”

Representatives of Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior could not be reached for comment, as of presstime

Comment by GEORGE

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