Trade-mark Infringement Online

The world of trade-marks is regulated by several underlying concepts. One such concept is that two similar or even identical marks can coexist as long as they are in different channels of trade.  This permits the trade-mark DELTA to be used by an airline, a water faucet manufacturer and a hotel chain without any confusion.  

In the recent decision in Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. Haute Diggity Dog, LLC, 2006 WL 3182468 (E.D. Va. 2006), this concept was put to the test in the internet context.  Are online sales a “channel of trade” for the purpose of determining whether two similar marks can coexist?  The famous hand-bag company sued a manufacturer of pet accessories (such as dog beds and chew toys) for trade-mark infringement.  Louis Vuitton alleged that the use of the mark CHEWY VUITON  infringed its LOUIS VUITTON mark.  Essentially, the court disagreed.  The fact that the sales of both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s products were made online was not, by itself, determinative of the issue.  The court looked at a number of other factors to determine whether the two marks were used in the same channel of trade.  

Trade-mark owners should police their marks and take steps to prevent infringers from trading on their reputation.  This U.S. case provides some guidance for Canadian businesses who are trading into the U.S. particularly in the ever-expanding internet and e-commerce context.  



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  1. […] The famous French hand-bag company sued the US maker of “Chewy Vuiton” dog toys.  The decision a year ago in Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. Haute Diggity Dog, LLC was appealed and the TTAB (Trademark Trial and Appeal Board) recently issued its decision upholding the lower court’s ruling.  The appeal court agreed that Haute Diggity Dog’s products are not likely to cause confusion with those of Louis Vuitton and that Louis Vuitton’s copyright was not infringed. The “Chewy Vuiton” dog toys were considered “successful parodies” of Louis Vuitton’s trademarks, designs, and products. (Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. Haute Diggity Dog, LLC, US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 06-2267 (Decided: November 13, 2007)) […]

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