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| 1 minute read

Louis Vuitton Ads Under Scrutiny for Infringing Artist's Copyrights

Joan Mitchell was an influential painter known for her expressive brush strokes and being inspired by her garden. The Joan Mitchell Foundation represents the now-deceased artists' interests in her intellectual property, including decisions as to where and how her artwork may be commercialized.

The Joan Mitchell Foundation alleges that Louis Vuitton, the mega luxury goods retailer, infringed on Mitchell's copyright rights in its recent ad campaign and sent them a cease and desist letter. The timing is interesting - Mitchell's work is currently in a highly-praised exhibition at The Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art space in Paris owned by Louis Vuitton's parent company, LVMH. The Joan Mitchell Foundation sent a separate cease and desist letter to The Fondation Louis Vuitton stating it violated a license agreement which allegedly prevents The Fondation Louis Vuitton from reproducing the work without The Joan Mitchell Foundation's consent.

The Joan Mitchell Foundation apparently has proof that it repeatedly denied the request for the artwork to appear in the ad campaign - even turning down an apparently sizeable donation from Bernard Arnault, chief executive of LVMH. 

Despite the apparently repeated denial of the request to include the artwork in the ad campaign, Louis Vuitton's campaign went ahead and photographed the artwork with actor Léa Seydoux holding a luxury handbag, some of which sell for over $10,000.

We'll be watching to see how this matter will be resolved or if it escalates further, but it serves as a good reminder to confirm clearance of all intellectual property used in ad campaigns. 

The Joan Mitchell Foundation sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Paris headquarters of Louis Vuitton on Tuesday, alleging the fashion brand had used the artist’s paintings in handbag advertisements after her nonprofit organization repeatedly declined to give its approval.


intellectual property, copyright, art, copyright infringement, ip