Fashion Law Trademarks

Pharmaceutical Company Settle Lawsuit Over Brian Lichtenburg Parody T-Shirts

AbbVie Inc., the owner of the Vicodan intellectual property rights, has reportedly settled its lawsuit over trademark infringement lawsuit with Brian Lichtenburg and Los Angeles clothing boutique Kitson.

Brian Lichtenberg landed himself in a whole lot of trouble last year over his designer drug t-shirts. The designer, famous for his designer parody t-shirts (Homies, Feline, Burrr), introduced three new t-shirts to his line reading Xanax, Vicodin and Adderall, at Los Angeles clothing boutique Kitson. The t-shirts retailed at between $50 and $100.

AbbVie Inc. filed a lawsuit claiming that the  t-shirts misappropriated the Vicodin trademark, and were  harmful to the general public, as they promoted irresponsible prescription drug use. It is notable that AbbVie Inc do own the trademark in respect of pharmaceuticals but not for the class covering clothing. In its complaint, the drug company stated that it had invested significant resources “to promoting safe and responsible prescription drug use.” The company sought injunctive relief and damages, which it promised would be “donated in its entirety to prescription drug abuse outreach and educational programs.”

Even before the whispers of trademark infringement the t-shirts had caused a media furoir over claims of glorifying drug culture. Fans also took to twitter to show their disgust. A representative from one of the producers of Adderall said: ‘We had no involvement NOR do we approve of the sale of such a product using Adderall to glorify the misuse of our product.’ And a spokesperson from Abbott, the firm behind Vicodin, added: ‘Prescription drug use should not be trivialised.” In response to the negative reactions, the store released a statement defending them as ‘art’ and a ‘parody of ‘pop culture’. It also launched a banner on its website in a bid to win back customers, stating that a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Medicine Abuse Project.

The terms of the settlement remain confidential but we suspect Lichtenberg has been compensated for any payout with the inordinate amount of media coverage the lawsuit and controversy created. Despite the negative backlash, we suspect this coverage of the matter was exactly what Lichtenberg and Kitson desired. No publicity is bad publicity!

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