By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Law students who organized a symposium on fashion law today at the University of Pennsylvania got a real-world lesson in fashion trademarks they didn’t expect.

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The students got a cease-and-desist letter from Louis Vuitton, the luggage company, for using a likeness of its trademark on posters.

But the law school didn’t back down, and it may be the Vuitton company’s lawyer that got the ultimate lesson in trademark law.

The poster uses a clever graphic in which the “LV” in the Vuitton trademark is replaced by a “TM,” and the flower inside a circle is replaced with the copyright symbol.

The Vuitton company was not amused.  Its lawyer sent a sharply worded letter about the egregious infringement, tsk-tsking that the law school should have known better.

(A portion of the Louis Vuitton company's cease-and-desist letter.)

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But Penn’s general counsel sent an equally sharp reply, inviting him to attend the symposium to get schooled about why the luggage company’s position is all wrong.

Neither the company nor Penn would comment on the dustup, but legal bloggers have chimed in.  Most dismiss Vuitton as a “trademark bully.”

But attorney Steve Baird thinks Vuitton may have been right.

“One person’s bully is another’s legitimate trademark enforcement,” he told KYW Newsradio.

Baird thinks Penn was saved from further action because the symposium is today so the point now is moot, but he’s not sure that’s the right lesson to be teaching law students.

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