The recording company agreed to pay up for a copyright case that involved Britney Spears using Vuitton’s logo without permission.
Fashion house Louis Vuitton proved on Thursday that it is willing to forgive and forget unauthorized use of its famous logo—for a price.
The company settled a charge against Sony BMG, which had allowed several of its artists to use unapproved versions of the Louis Vuitton logo in music videos and on CD marketing materials. Pop singer Britney Spears, for instance, appeared in a video with a car that featured a dashboard covered in the LV print.
Neither Sony BMG nor Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey would disclose the amount Sony agreed to pay to settle the case, but an industry insider said the price was well above $300,000. Sony BMG did not return calls seeking comment.
“We are very pleased to have successfully resolved these matters in a manner that protects our brand and our customers,” said Nathalie Moulle-Berteaux, Louis Vuitton’s intellectual property director. “We believe the terms of this agreement will provide strong protection to our brand worldwide.”
Louis Vuitton has been on the forefront of protecting its intellectual property. The French firm recently won a case in Parisian court against online auction company eBay Inc., which had been selling counterfeit LVMH goods. Luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. lost a similar case in the U.S. just days later.
Sony’s case against Louis Vuitton was likely damaged by the fact that the artists did not use genuine LVMH products in the infractions, said Peter Sloane, an attorney at Ostrolenk Faber LLP who specializes in trademarks and copyrights. In the case of Ms. Spears, Louis Vuitton does not make dashboard covers or even sell reams of logo fabric that could be fashioned as such.
“Entertainment companies such as Sony need to carefully vet their images to make sure they protect the intellectual property rights of other brands,” Mr. Sloane said.
Although the case between the two firms will likely resonate within the entertainment industry, one music scenester said most music video producers are already careful about which logos appear on film.
When Sony opted to print a likeness of Vuitton’s logo on singer Ruben Studdard’s CD, The Return, it went too far, said Rasheem Barker, an executive assistant at Violator Management & Records, which oversees a number of entertainment artists. “That’s a major problem because it looks like Louis Vuitton sponsored it,” he said.
Even for songs that name-drop luxury brands, from Cristal champagne to Ferraris, entertainment managers typically try to get permission from each firm to use their images on a shoot, Mr. Barker said.