Legally Yours. Louboutin Loses Red Sole Case Against YSL

August 11, 2011 • Blahnik Tonic, Designers, Fashion Blog, Legally Yours

Christian Louboutin's red lacquered soles

The battle of the red soles has finally come to an end, with a ruling not favorable to Christian Louboutin.

Louboutin has been identified by the red lacquered sole of his luxury heels since he decided to paint the bottom of one with nail polish in the early 90’s. In 2008, the luxury footwear label was awarded a trademark for the shiny red soles and has been using that same trademark to file for a preliminary injunction against fellow French designer Yves Saint Laurent.

Louboutin claims YSL committed trademark infringement in its 2011 Resort collection which featured red heels that also sported red bottoms. YSL’s camp fired back, stating Yves Saint Laurent himself created the concept of a monochromatic shoe back in the 1970s, and the YSL line has occasionally introduced one-color shoes ever since.

YSL's red resort 2011 shoes

The two houses have been arguing back and forth in a Manhattan federal court for weeks and finally, yesterday a decision was reached by presiding Manhattan Federal Judge Victor Marrero. Having what seemed to be a little too much fun with the case, Morrero ultimately ruled in favor of YSL, stating that Louboutin cannot enjoin the YSL label from selling red-soled shoes and going so far to say that Louboutin should not have been granted a trademark in the first place.

Reuters reported, ‘”The [bottom] of a shoe is, almost literally, a pedestrian thing,” Marrero wrote. “Yet, coated in a bright and unexpected color, the outsole becomes decorating, an object of beauty. To attract, to reference, to stand out, to blend in, to beautify, to endow with sex appeal-all comprise nontrademark functions of color in fashion.”‘

Louboutin’s camp obviously disagreed and are already working to overturn the judge’s decision. Louboutin’s lawyer, Harley Lewin, said, “It appears to us that while acknowledging the trademark status and renown of Louboutin’s famous Red Sole trademark, [Judge Merrero] has unilaterally decided that a single color cannot be a trademark in the fashion industry. We disagree and are evaluating the alternatives available.”

On the other hand, YSL lawyer David Bernstein of Bernstein of Debevoise couldn’t have agreed more with the ruling.”The function of fashion is to communicate something,” he said. “As Judge Marrero indicated, YSL designers are artists and, like other artists, they should have the right to use the full palette of colors in designing their fashions for each season.”

So is this really the end of the ugly Red Sole War? We sure hope so!

-Alia Rajput

Article Source: Reuters, NY Mag

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