Earlier this week we ran a Q&A with Nadia Plesner, the Danish art student embroiled in a copyright lawsuit with Louis Vuitton. She created an image depicting a Darfurian child holding a bag based on a Louis Vuitton design for a campaign to raise awareness of the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Her message is that we care more about items like the Vuitton purse and the celebrities that carry them than serious issues like Darfur. Today a spokeswoman from Louis Vuitton rang us up to offer their side of the story.
She said the fashion house initially did not ask for damages when it noticed the colors and design of the bag in Plesner’s painting appeared to be an exact copy of the Audra bag pictured above. They sent Plesner a letter asking her to respect the rights of other artists like Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs and artist Takashi Murakami, who designed the bag. Plesner didn’t respond to the letter but continued her campaign and posted the letter on her Website. The spokeswoman also noted when Plesner started the campaign, she was donating 30 percent of the profits from the sale of T-shirts and posters with the image (now her Website says she’s donating 100 percent of the profits).
Since Plesner didn’t respond to Louis Vuitton, the house went to court in Paris to file an injunction. On March 25 the court declared the image was a clear infringement of Louis Vuitton’s copyright on the bag and ordered Plesner to cease and desist. When Plesner ignored this injunction, Louis Vuitton took further action and asked for 5,000 euros for each day she continued to sell the product (just under $7,700; some erroneous reports say $20,000 a day). “If companies don’t take action to protect trademarks, it’s harder to do so in the future,” the spokeswoman said. “I just think the way she’s portraying this she’s not telling what Louis Vuitton did to prevent the lawsuit.”
She added Louis Vuitton is not trying to stop Plesner’s campaign and hopes to find a solution to allow it to continue without infringing on Louis Vuitton’s intellectual-property rights.