In October of last year, 26-year-old Dutch artist Nadia Plesner started a campaign to raise awareness of the ongoing genocide in Darfur.
She thought that since the media covers meaningless things like handbags and celebrity pooches instead of issues that matter, maybe the world would pay attention if she dressed a Darfurian child like Paris Hilton.
After designing an image of a Darfurian child holding a chihuahua and designer handbag, she put it on t-shirts and posters and began selling them, donating 100% of the profits from sales to the charity Divest for Darfur.
In February of this year, Plesner received a cease and desist letter from Louis Vuitton, urging her to stop producing the t-shirts, arguing that the bag in the image infringes their intellectual property rights. Plesner responded to them by explaining that she didn’t use the exact pattern of a Louis Vuitton bag, and that the drawing simply refers to designer bags in general.
From her response letter...
Sometimes recognizable objects are needed to express deeper meanings, and in their new form they become more than the objects themselves – they become art.
I therefore stand by my freedom of expression - artistic and/or otherwise - and will continue my campaign in order to raise money for the victims of Darfur.
On April 15, 2008, Louis Vuitton filed a lawsuit against her for copyright infingement, demanding that she stop producing the image or pay 5,000 euros per day in damages (about $7,700.) Plesner has hired lawyers is fighting the lawsuit, and I think she's scheduled to meet with LV at the end of the month.