Luxury luggage has popped up at the center of yet another trademark infringement lawsuit. On the heels of the recent Hangover lawsuit, Marvel is facing a lawsuit over the packaging for its Avengers DVD set.
Rimowa GmbH, the plaintiff, alleges that the Marvel and its parent, Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment, have infringed its attaché case products. According to the complaint, Samuel L. Jackson’s character Nick Fury in The Avengers used Rimowa’s Topas attaché case to hold dossiers on the various superheroes.
Unlike the Louis Vuitton bag in Hangover II, Marvel was provided with the genuine attaché case for use in the movie. However, the company contends it did not authorize Marvel to use a replica of the case in packaging the film’s box set.
According to the complaint, “Images of the replica briefcase on Marvel’s advertising materials, and fan video from Marvel’s product display at this year’s Comic-Con convention, show the plastic ‘replica case’ to be a close copy of Rimowa’s Topas attaché case in every respect but quality — from the proportions and coloring, to the style of the handle and latches, and, of course, in the use of the trademarked parallel ridges around the body of the case.”
Rimowa has alleged trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It is seeking an injunction as well as monetary damages.
As this case highlights, companies may grant permission for their products to be used in certain situations, but object to others. Therefore, it is important that any agreement specifically describe all permitted uses. If you are unsure whether you are authorized to use trademarked property, contact me for more information.