Luxury handbag maker Louis Vuitton claimed a Las Vegas company infringed on its trademark with furry "Chewy Vuiton" dog toys, but a federal appeals court refused to bite.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling that Haute Diggity Dog's toy was a successful parody of the products from the French fashion company.
Judge Paul V. Niemeyer found that Chewy Vuiton is "a joking and amusing parody" that "pokes fun at the elegance and expensiveness of a LOUIS VUITTON handbag."
Louis Vuitton sued Haute Diggity Dog, its principal owner Victoria Dauernheim, and retailer Woofie's Pet Boutique in Ashburn, Va., in 2006 for trademark, trade dress and copyright infringement.
Louis Vuitton, which also makes some of its own pet products, argued the toy company infringed on its trademarks because the toys are likely to cause confusion.
"We believe the court misapplied the law of parody, which is designed to protect freedom of speech, but not to allow infringers to make money by exploiting the good name and famous trademarks of a company such as Louis Vuitton," the company said in a statement.
Pamela Reeder, co-owner of Haute Diggity Dog, said she was relieved by the outcome of the case, which has cost more than $300,000 in legal fees for the company that started in her guest bedroom in August 2004.