Toymaker MGA Entertainment has dragged French fashion house Louis Vuitton into a lawsuit that shows how cutting cultural commentary sometimes comes in surprising packages.
Poop-shaped packages, to be exact.
MGA is preemptively suing Louis Vuitton’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 has claimed the toy’s design is a trademark infringement because its design marks and name are similar to those of Louis Vuitton handbags. MGA argues not only is the toy obviously not a Louis Vuitton knockoff, but it was meant to slime the lifestyle of the ultrawealthy 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 counsel 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 criticize 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 a surreal complaint (in which the word "poop" appears at least 25 times), MGA delivered a detailed analysis of why no reasonable consumer would ever confuse Pooey Puitton for an actual 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."
The complaint continues: "Louis Vuitton handbags are not manufactured with the sole intention of storing ingredients and materials for the creation of slime or 'magical unicorn poop.'
"Louis Vuitton handbags are luxury items typically sold at price points significantly higher than that of the Pooey Product's suggested retail price of $59.99."
The complaint also argued Louis Vuitton "has a history of not respecting parody rights in the U.S. 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.
"The furry little 'Chewy Vuiton' imitation, as something to be chewed by a dog, pokes fun at the elegance and expensiveness of a Louis Vuitton handbag, which must not be chewed by a dog," Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote in his decision against LVMH.
MGA is no stranger to lawsuits, either, and is still tangled in a multiyear slog with Mattel over the designs of its Bratz dolls. Based in Van Nuys, Calif., MGA is known for hot toys such as L.O.L. Surprise! and Little Tikes products.