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LV, Sony Strike a Chord

After hitting several false notes, Louis Vuitton and Sony BMG have reached accord on the issue of musicians who have "borrowed" LV's trademarks to add a bit of glamour to their own products.

Sony will pay LV the additional €97,000 still outstanding from French judgments involving Brittney Spears and rap artist Da Brat, as well as an undisclosed sum in compensation for Ruben Studdard's unauthorized use of LV's marks on a CD.  (Remember Ruben?  American Idol season 2?  And did you buy his "The Return" CD and open it to find the signature LV toile inside?  Didn't think so -- which may be part of the reason why the amount of the settlement had not been made public.) 

Perhaps more importantly, Sony has promised to use "best efforts to educate its various record labels as to the Louis Vuitton intellectual property."  In other words, Sony has agreed to take some responsibility for reminding artists that wearing Louis is one thing, but copying its trademarks on CDs, videos, and other merchandise is quite another.

But why all the discord in the first place?  Don't designers and luxury labels actively court celebrity endorsements and even pay famous folks to wear their brands?  Yes and yes.  However, that doesn't mean that Louis Vuitton is ready to reverse the equation and lend its own endorsement to Brittney's latest video or Ruben's CD -- especially without even being aware of it. 

For more on harmonious brand management and the LV/Sony settlement, check out Matthew Lynch's article in today's WWD, complete with a gentle admonition to Kanye West, the self-styled "Louis Vuitton Don."  And thanks for the quotes, Matt!