Louis Vitton sued Nadia Plesner again over Darfur-child with purse - 190.000 euros & counting

Welcome back to 2008 - that's when Louis Vuitton sued Nadia Plesner over the Darfur T-shirt. Now they're suing her over a painting called Darfurnica. See Darfurnica on Nadia PLesner's website.

As I returned to Holland in the beginning of February, I had received a verdict in a new court case started by Louis Vuitton. They are very angry about the bag that the boy in the middle is carrying. They claim again that I infringe their design rights on the pattern used in their "audra" bag and they had the court in Hague put 5000 euro penalties for each day I continue to show this painting on my website or in galleries or anywhere else. They have been counting since January 28, so at the moment the amount is higher than 190.000 euros (!)

Oh dear!
Victoria Beckham is also depicted in Darfurnica. She holds her Hermes Birkin handbag, so might Hermes join in here?

Nadia Pleisner doesn't just paint sly comments on the modern world by juxtaposing celebrities with starving children and horseback soldiers, she has the .nadiaplesnerfoundation.org which collects monetary donations and sends medical shipments to Darfur. It must have been the "Darfuitton" giant handbag piece that really ticked Louis Vuitton off.

Update with thanks to Michelle Mosterd "Less then an hour ago the appealcourt in The Hague decided against Louis Vuitton. According to the court, freedom of speech is more important then brand protection." see comment

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (9)

  • fairuse's picture

    Normally I would have nothing to add to this situation because it has been said many times over by the copyright, trademark & intellectual property talking heads. However, since I got a chance to read my back issues of TechDirt my brain is full of the foolishness that passes as protecting one's mark, product or whatever. The EU has basically decided Fair Use/Fair Dealing is dead. Before you jump up and say, "What! There is a clause that allows for Fair Dealing.", I'll tell you there really isn't. Here is the study which shows how bad the concept of unlimited copyright with convoluted exceptions per EU state is. It buried Fair Dealing.

    That little bag that the boy in the middle is carrying in a rational world is Fair Use/Fair Dealing. It is part of a statement, it does nothing to harm the income of a tight ass shoulder bag designer. It is not a competitor in the same line of business. In fact, as I read it, the painting helps those in need of everything but an overpriced look-at-me accessory.

    Forces on both sides of the Great Pond have twisted copyright into horror story of what the Anglo-American and Continental European law was born to do. Thank the entertainment industry for pushing a no Fair Use/Fair Dealing mindset. Now everyone thinks they have unlimited rights to harass, sue and even destroy another's work if it has a minor use of their existing work; as misguided as that is.

    Thank Brussels and Washington (Hollywood lobby) for this situation.

    Mar 10, 2011
  • Dabitch's picture

    ... and from a marketing p.o.v, the coveted expensive handbag will now forever be associated not only with "being expensive and worn by celebs" but also "being insensitive enough they'd sue the hell out of someone who raising money for starving children in Darfur".

    Unless they think this adds a certain something to their "expensive" image, they really should deal with this in another way. Are we supposed to be thinking "This bag cost X-thousand bucks and several children's lives...."?

    Not that I think the legal department has any idea what marketing is thinking, and vice versa, but this is one deep hole to try and PR-dig yourself out of.

    Mar 10, 2011
  • FashionSmartyS's picture

    Campbell's Soup & Andy Warhol...it's art, enough said

    Mar 12, 2011
  • fairuse's picture

    Glad you wrote that, I agree. I was too fired up on the method of the madness and only hinted at the side effect to the label. He didn't think it out, just let legal do their thing.

    Mar 15, 2011
  • fairuse's picture

    Update: March 16, 2011 22:40 UTC

    If you want to get a better idea of the damage LV (with the courts help) is doing by subverting IP law Techdirt has an analysis of some of LV's insane claims.

    I find this troubling for many reasons but the top reason is the court is playing a dangerous game; the game where influence wins over freedom of expression.

    It appears the court LV is saying one company's intellectual property rights is always going to be more important than someone's expressive rights. The fact that the court LV spends an entire paragraph effectively doing art criticism by saying she has other options for how she expresses herself is downright scary for anyone who actually believes in freedom of speech (Update: and it's equally troubling that the court accepts this reasoning). The concept of freedom of speech and expression is not about finding the least offensive way to say what you want to say, or kowtowing to some corporation that doesn't like what you have to say. You say what you say and you do it in the way that you feel best expresses your position.

    The claims LV makes are in the post and, in my opinion, are plain crazy.

    Mar 17, 2011
  • Andreas-Udd's picture

    What court is this playing out in? The Netherlands? Freedom of speech has been on trial there for a while.

    Mar 17, 2011
  • fairuse's picture

    Yes it is, LV is using "slimy people tricks" to make sure he wins. Note the section in bold. Reference: Techdirt article with the order

    From page 10 of the order. Jurisdiction Pursuant to Articles 81 and 82 (1) of the Community Designs Regulation, the Court of The Hague in preliminary relief proceedings has jurisdiction in respect of the defendant under 1, who is domiciled in the Netherlands. Pursuant to Article 90 (3), this jurisdiction extends to all Member States of the European Union. As for the respondent under 2, jurisdiction arises from Article 6(1) of the EEX Regulation. The cases between the two respondents are (very much) connected, as they concern the same infringing products and infringement of the same (unitary) Community design.

    In order to prevent that litigation concerning this same Design will be necessary in different countries, which carries the risk of ending up with incompatible judicial decisions, Louis Vuitton has chosen to present the matter in its entirety to the court of the place where the respondent under 1 is domiciled, who is the “source” of the infringing products.

    This situation is suitable par excellence for the application of Article 6(1) of the EEX, and therefore Louis Vuitton respectfully requests the Court, pursuant to this provision, to impose an injunction also on the respondent under 2 for infringement of the Design in the European Union.

    What kind of slime are you made of Louis Vuitton?

    Mar 18, 2011
  • Michelle Mosterd's picture
    Michelle Mosterd (not verified)

    Less then an hour ago the appealcourt in The Hague decided against Louis Vuitton. According to the court, freedom of speech is more important then brand protection.

    From a Dutch newssite: http://twurl.nl/adowpw
    And the same article, robo-translated by Google: http://twurl.nl/zbl456

    May 04, 2011
  • Dabitch's picture

    Thanks for the update Michelle!That's good news, and in my opinion, the only way this could have gone anyway.

    Plesner maakte het schilderij van een jongetje met een designtas in zijn hand, omdat zij zich wil verzetten tegen de vele berichten in de media over ''nikszeggende celebrities''.
    Vrijheid van meningsuiting
    De rechtbank in Den Haag bepaalde woensdag dat het belang van Plesner (vrije meningsuiting via haar werk) zwaarder weegt dan het belang van Vuitton (bescherming van eigendom). Het gebruik van Plesner van het ontwerp wordt door de rechtbank aangemerkt als functioneel en proportioneel.

    I'm no Google-translate, the jist is: "Plesner made in the painting a boy with a designer-purse in his hand, as her comment on the many media reports on celebrities who "say nothing" (are nothing)
    Freedom of expression
    The court in the Den Haag decided Wednesday that Plesner's rights (freedom of expression through her work) outweighs the importance of Vuitton's (protection of property). The way Plesner used the design was considered functional and in proportion. (to the statement made by it, I guess one could say)

    May 04, 2011