Jeremy Sheff on the Law of Luxury Good Knock-Offs

Jeremy Sheff

Associate Professor Jeremy Sheff has a new post on PrawfsBlag (here) analyzing the legal treatment of luxury good knock-offs under the Lanham Act. The legal analysis in these cases turns on a doctrine called “post-sale confusion.”  As Jeremy explains: “Luxury knock-offs do not infringe the luxury house’s trademark because of their effect on the purchaser of the knock-offs, but because of their effect on people who observe that purchaser consuming the product after it has been purchased. Such observers, the theory goes, will see the non-confused purchaser consuming the defendant’s product, but mistake it for the plaintiff’s product due to the similarity of the products’ trademarks or overall designs.”

Jeremy’s question is a simple one–why should we care? “What is the social or moral ill,” Jeremy asks, “that results if I mistakenly believe that a woman walking down Fifth Avenue is carrying an authentic Louis Vuitton purse when in fact she is carrying a cheap imitation?” Jeremy’s answer to that question is in the latest issue of the Minnesota Law Review (the link to the SSRN version of the paper is here).

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