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By
AFP
Translated by
Nicola Mira
Published
Mar 28, 2022
Reading time
2 minutes
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Louis Vuitton found guilty of using unauthorised design

By
AFP
Translated by
Nicola Mira
Published
Mar 28, 2022

In early March, the Louis Vuitton Malletier brand, owned by luxury group LVMH, was sentenced to pay over €800,000 in damages and interest to an independent designer for the unauthorised use of a clasp she created.


The swivelling LV clasp - Louis Vuitton


The matter started in 1987, according to the ruling issued by the Paris appeals court seen by the AFP agency, confirming a report by French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné. Independent designer Jocelyne Imbert had entered into a contract with Louis Vuitton Malletier (LVM) for ‘a swivelling LV’ clasp she created, and a line of handbags.

In 1992, LVM bought the rights to the handbag line and the clasp. The contract contained an additional clause regarding the clasp: if a new handbag line was to use the ‘swivelling LV’ clasp, Imbert would be paid a one-off fee of French francs 517,689.

In 2014, Imbert discovered that the clasp in question was being used in the Twist handbag line, without LVM informing her. Her lawyer demanded on her behalf a payment of €111,575, equivalent to the agreed-upon sum of French francs 517,689 “increased by the corresponding depreciation.”

LVM sent Imbert a cheque for €79,853 which she refused to accept, having realised that LVM was using the clasp also on the Go handbag line and on a number of purses, when the contract indicated that the clasp was to be used for handbags only.

In March 2017, Imbert brought LVM to court, charging the brand with counterfeiting, and discovered that the ‘swivelling LV’ clasp was also used for bracelets, shoes, belts and key holders. Between July 2010 and Q1 2017, sales for these products were worth nearly €3.5 billion net of tax.

The court initially rejected Imbert’s charges, and she appealed.

On March 13, the Paris court of appeals sentenced LVM to pay “€700,000 in damages and interest for the unauthorised use of the ‘swivelling LV’ [clasp] on purses, bracelets, shoes, belts and key holders,” and a further €133,088 net of tax “as provided by the contract” signed in 1992, for the clasp’s use on the Twist and Go handbags.

Contacted by AFP, Louis Vuitton said it “strongly opposes the accusations some have made against [the company],” adding that “[Louis Vuitton] has always abided by the clauses of the contract it entered with the artist who designed the clasp, as has been recognised by the Paris court, and as proved by the court of appeals’ rejection of several demands made by the [artist],” and that it will appeal to the highest court.

Louis Vuitton is the leading brand of LVMH, the world's top luxury group, which in 2021 generated a revenue of €64.2 billion.

Paris, March 25 2022 AFP

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