Music

Pharrell Williams & Louis Vuitton Sued Over ‘Pocket Socks’ by Small Company With Same Name

Pharrell Williams and Louis Vuitton are facing a lawsuit over their launch of a high-end line of “Pocket Socks,” filed by a California company that says it’s been using that same name for more than a decade on a similar product.

In a case filed last week in Los Angeles federal court, Pocket Socks Inc. says the luxury brand’s product — a literal sock-with-a-pocket that launched at Paris Fashion Week last year and sells for the whopping price of $530 — infringes its existing trademark rights to the name.

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“Much attention and publicity has been generated for Louis Vuitton’s ‘Pocket Socks,’ including defendants, the press, and consumers using the name ‘Pocket Socks’ for their product which irreparably injures Pocket Socks’ longstanding brand and trademark rights,” the company’s lawyers write in the June 20 complaint.

Louis Vuitton announced in February 2023 that Williams would serve as the company’s men’s creative director, and he debuted his first line for the company later that year at Men’s Fashion Week in Paris.

One of the items apparently rolled out at last year’s event was the Pocket Socks — a pair of knitted socks that feature a pocket adorned with a pearl. The socks received some notoriety in January when Jermaine Dupri was razzed on social media for wearing them during his Super Bowl halftime performance. Though currently unavailable for purchase, the socks are listed on Louis Vuitton’s UK website for £420 — roughly $530 in U.S. dollars.

Louis Vuitton’s new product didn’t sit well with Pocket Socks Inc., which says it’s been using that exact same name since 2012 for its own line of socks that feature a zippered pocket sewn into each pair. In its lawsuit, the company says it owns several federal trademark registrations for the brand and that the new product clearly infringes those rights.

In a statement announcing the new lawsuit, Pocket Socks Inc. claims Louis Vuitton’s new line “threatens to undermine the hard work and dedication” that has gone into building the brand: “This massive luxury brand and their designer Pharrell Williams should know better and behave within the law,” said CEO Evan Papel.

In technical terms, the lawsuit accuses Williams and Louis Vuitton of infringing both the trademark to the name as well as the so-called “trade dress” — meaning the actual look of the product. The sale of similar-looking socks under the same name is “likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive consumers,” the lawsuit claims.

As the case moves forward, one possible defense argument from Williams and Louis Vuitton could be that the name Pocket Socks is too “descriptive” to serve as a trademark. Under U.S. trademark law, terms that merely describe the goods or services being sold cannot be locked up as an exclusive brand name.

Neither a rep Williams nor Louis Vuitton immediately returned requests for comment.

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