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Pooey Puitton Proactively Sues The Shit Out Of Louis Vuitton

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All one needs to do to get a sense of how Louis Vuitton, famed maker of bags, views trademark law is do a short review of past stories it's been involved in on this site. What you will come away with is the clear sense of the company as laughably litigious, insanely aggressive in bullying others, and as being entirely devoid of having anything resembling a sense of humor or respect for parody.And that last bit appears to be resulting in yet another dispute, this time between Louis Vuitton and MGA Entertainment Inc., which makes the Pooey Puitton toy handbag. And, yes, that toy handbag is literally shaped like a piece of poop. Apparently, Louis Vuitton has been making comments to some of MGA's commercial clients that the toy handbag infringes its trademarks, leading to MGA filing suit against LV asking for a declaratory judgement that its parody bag is not in fact infringing.

In a complaint filed on Friday in Los Angeles federal court, MGA Entertainment Inc said no reasonable consumer would mistake Pooey Puitton, which retails for $59.99, for costlier Louis Vuitton handbags.“The use of the Pooey name and Pooey product in association with a product line of ‘magical unicorn poop’ is intended to criticize or comment upon the rich and famous, the Louis Vuitton name, the LV marks, and on their conspicuous consumption."
All of which puts the Pooey Puitton bag squarely in the category of protected parody. Beyond that, any claim that the public is going to look at the bag as anything other than a joke played on upon LV, rather than having association with the company, is pretty laughable.
But my interest is centered around LV's apparent thinking that anyone is going to mistake a literal piece-of-shit handbag, and think that it was made by Louis Vuitton. That doesn't seem to me to be the kind of claim a luxury handbag maker would want to make, yet here we sit. Or, more likely, the Louis Vuitton folks simply can't help themselves from failing to appreciate the joke and instead have to go the bullying route.

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China Starts Using Facial Recognition-Enabled 'Smart' Locks In Its Public Housing

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Surveillance using facial recognition is sweeping the world. That's partly for the usual reason that the underlying digital technology continues to become cheaper, more powerful and thus more cost-effective. But it's also because facial recognition can happen unobtrusively, at a distance, without people being aware of its deployment. In any case, many users of modern smartphones have been conditioned to accept it unthinkingly, because it's a quick and easy way to unlock their device. This normalization of facial recognition is potentially bad news for privacy and freedom, as this story in the South China Morning Post indicates:

Beijing is speeding up the adoption of facial recognition-enabled smart locks in its public housing programmes as part of efforts to clamp down on tenancy abuse, such as illegal subletting.The face-scanning system is expected to cover all of Beijing's public housing projects, involving a total of 120,000 tenants, by the end of June 2019
Although a desire to stop tenancy abuses sounds reasonable enough, it's important to put the move in a broader context. As Techdirt reported back in 2017, China is creating a system storing the facial images of every Chinese citizen, with the ability to identify any one of them in three seconds. Although the latest use of facial recognition with "smart" locks is being run by the Beijing authorities, such systems don't exist in isolation. Everything is being cross-referenced and linked together to ensure a complete picture is built up of every citizen's activities -- resulting in what is called the "citizen score" or "social credit" of an individual. China said last year that it would start banning people with "bad" citizen scores from using planes and trains for up to a year. Once the "smart" locks are in place, it would be straightforward to make them part of the social credit system and its punishments -- for example by imposing a curfew on those living at an address, or only allowing certain "approved" visitors.Even without using "smart" locks in this more extreme way, the facial recognition system could record everyone who came visiting, and how long they stayed, and transmit that data to a central monitoring station. The scope for abuse by the authorities is wide. If nothing else, it's a further reminder that if you are not living in China, where you may not have a choice, installing "smart" Internet of things devices voluntarily may not be that smart.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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