The courtroom tussle between luxury makers Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent over red-soled shoes is common knowledge by now. But shoemaker Christian Louboutin could well be waging a losing battle. A Manhattan judge has dismissed Louboutin’s injunction against Yves Saint Laurent’s use of red lacquer on the soles of women’s shoes.
The French footwear designer may be seeing red (literally!) over the dismissal of his injunction against Yves Saint Laurent. After all, Louboutin has practically made red soles his trademark in the women’s footwear sector. However, Manhattan’s Judge Victor Marrero did not see eye to eye with Louboutin on this matter. Judge Marrero explained, “Because in the fashion industry color serves ornamental and aesthetic functions vital to robust competition, the court finds that Louboutin is unlikely to be able to prove that its red outsole brand is entitled to trademark protection…”
Judge Marrero is simply saying that no single designer can lay exclusive claim to a single color. It is understandable that if Louboutin got his way on his this case, the fashion industry would soon witness a flood of patent and trademark applications.
It is also interesting to note that Yves Saint Laurent has used red soles on footwear since the 1970s. This makes Louboutin the new entrant – he has been making red-sole shoes only since 1992.
In the meanwhile, the legal battle between Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent looks set to continue for a long time. However, the initial setback for Louboutin should prove a wake-up call for other brands like Tiffany & Co. and Hermes, both of whom have been eager to own their signature colors.