The Fake for Real Memory Game – consisting of 60 cards that playfully visualize the classical theme of fake and real in our society – has temporarily been taken offline due to legal issues with a luxury leather luggage brand Louis Vuitton.
The Fake for Real memory game is sold in a stylish box, decorated with a pattern resembling the internationally renowned Louis Vuitton pattern, which was ironically mimicked using right-free ‘webdings’ fonts from MS Word.
Louis Vuitton is one of the most counterfeited contemporary luxury brands, with over 90% of the items bearing the LV trademark monogram being faked. Louis Vuitton employs a team of special investigation agencies and lawyers, actively pursuing offenders through the courts worldwide, allocating about half of its budget of communications to counteract piracy of its goods.
Although the Fake for Real memory game is not a handbag, suitcase or anywhere near the product range of Louis Vuitton and the FFR memory game is immediately recognizable as an artistic and educational take on the fake industry, lawyers of Louis Vuitton nevertheless found it necessary accuse the creators of the FFR game of copyright infringement.
The creators of the game disagree on the matter and consider it their ‘freedom of speech’ to create a debate on the visual culture that surrounds us all. The industry around the authenticity of brands is factual and a relevant cultural theme of our time. Nowadays children know more brands and logo’s than bird or tree species. For centuries artists painted trees and clouds because that is what they saw around them, nowadays they remix brands and logo’s because that is what surrounds them.
Especially for a brand like Louis Vuitton, that has so many historic connections with the art world, it is troubling to see them stretch intellectual property legislation up to a level of intolerance towards any cultural expressions regarding their brand. Are we now moving towards a society in which corporations can deeply penetrate peoples lives with their logo’s and brand strategies, while at the same time any artistic response or remixing of the same brands is prohibited because of copyright law? Now that’s called brand management folks!?
Whereas copyright legislation was originally intended to avoid confusion and protect businesses from copycats seeking to steal market share with inferior imitation products, it is increasingly used as a tool to control any cultural reflections upon a brand. The flipping coin of brand management is that on the one hand corporate identities strategically aim to become part of culture, while on the other side of coin, these ‘cultures’ have to be managed to meet the goals of the corporations, if necessary at the cost of the people participating in that culture. Sounds pretty totalitarian hey?
Needles to say that for any self respecting media artist this situation is an outrage. However, ultimately one has to be mild and realize that corporations can’t help it. Corporations want to survive. They want to live and grow, just like people. Recognition is their most successful product and they will guard their brand identity with all the powers at their disposal. In the end it is up to the legislators to fine tune the law between the freedom of creative expression and corporate interests.
Returning to the case Louis Vuitton VS Fake for Real. In response to accusations made by the LV lawyers, the creators of the FFR memory game have decided that – despite any future legal verdict there may be – a corporation with such low sensitivity for cultural design and artistic practice shouldn’t be granted the homage of being mimicked on the package of the FFR memory game. Luckily, there are countless other highly counterfeited brands, besides Louis Vuitton, that can be cited in the visual debate on fakeness and simulation.
Hence as of now, the sales of the game have been put to a halt, awaiting a new and improved edition of the game. Available online and in the shops world wide soon!