NEW YORK - Luxury goods manufacturer Louis Vuitton has sued Hyundai Motor Co, alleging trademark violations over an advertisement in this year's Super Bowl, the most watched television show in U.S. history.
In its complaint, the unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA alleged that Hyundai's depiction of a basketball featuring marks similar to its own were intentionally creating confusion among consumers regarding any association between the companies.
Louis Vuitton is known for its handbags, purses, briefcases and luggage.
Hyundai spokesman Dan Bedore had no immediate comment, saying the company had yet to review the complaint, which was filed Monday with Manhattan federal court.
The lawsuit concerns a commercial, titled Luxury, for the South Korean automaker's 2011 Sonata sedan.
In it, scenes of ordinary life are shown with what Louis Vuitton called less-than-subtle symbols of luxury, such as a giant yacht wedged between two homes, a policeman eating black caviar in his patrol car, and chandeliers replacing street lamps. An announcer intones over classical music: What if we made luxury available to everyone?
Louis Vuitton complained about a scene in which a man holds a dark brown basketball featuring what appear to be an interlocking L and Z and symbols resembling Xs and Os.
It said these are colorable imitations of Louis Vuitton's own LV, Toile Monogram and Flowers trademarks, and that the basketball has the same brown-on-brown color scheme as the Toile Monogram.
Estimating that tens of millions of Super Bowl viewers and an untold number of online viewers saw the commercial, it said Hyundai intended the ad to benefit commercially from the fame and renown of the LVM Marks by creating a false association between Louis Vuitton and its automobiles.
Louis Vuitton is seeking triple damages, punitive damages, a halt to the alleged infringement, and other remedies.
About 106.5 million Americans watched the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, topping the 106 million who saw the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H, which had been the most-watched U.S. television show, Nielsen media said.
The case is Louis Vuitton Malletier SA v. Hyundai Motor America, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-01611. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by So Young Kim in Detroit; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)