White flag raised in Louboutin Red Sole lawsuit Reply

The legal battle between designer shoe makers Christian Louboutin (known for his signature red sole shoes) and Yves Saint Laurent (who started selling a monochromatic red-soled shoe to match an all red outfit) has come to an end with YSL agreeing to dismiss its lawsuit against Louboutin.

After two rounds of trials ending with NY Judges questioning and narrowing the scope of Louboutin’s trademark for ‘red-soled shoes’… YSL has decided to end what was left of the litigation and dismiss the case.

YSL considers the case a victory and YSL’s attorney has reportedly stated the reasoning behind this decision as the following: “[b]y dismissing the case now, Yves Saint Laurent also wishes to ensure that the Court will not make any further rulings that put at risk the ability of fashion designers to trademark color in appropriate cases.”

The Louboutin ‘Red-soled trademark” lives on!

See also: YSL Drops Louboutin Suit at http://www.wwd.com/business-news/legal/ysl-drops-louboutin-suit-6418160 by A. Steigrad; Red Sole USPTO Registration # 3361597 @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.


Thrifty fashionistas are painting their shoe soles red… (imitating Louboutin while a lawsuit defending his red-sole trademark is on appeal) Reply

IMG_0176While the lawsuit filed by shoe designer Louboutin against fashion house Yves Saint Laurent alleging infringement of his signature (and trademarked) red-sole is being appealed… a surge of thrifty fashionistas have begun painting the soles of their shoes red to imitate the designer look.

Evidently sales of glossy red paint have rocketed in the UK … increasing by 40% for the red shades such as “Flame” and “Show Stopper.” Paint shop keepers are giving tips for painting on leather… and are surprised and happy about this new trend… and spike in red paint sales.

Interestingly, taking a brush in hand and painting shoe soles is exactly how the designer Louboutin claims to have created his first pair of red soles too.

“In 1992 I incorporated the red sole into the design of my shoes. This happened by accident as I felt that the shoes lacked energy so I applied red nail polish to the sold of a shoe. This was such a success that it became a permanent fixture…. I selected the color red because it is engaging, flirtatious, memorable and the color of passion. It attracts men to the women who wear my shoes. The red-soled shoes were an immediate sensation, and clients specifically came in to my stores looking for my red-soled shoes. The red sole quickly became my signature.” – excerpt from a declaration made my Christian Louboutin, in support of the trademark application for his red-sole-design mark

Celebrities and famous actresses are often seen wearing Louboutin shoes which sell for $450 – $4,645 a pair, on the Barney’s website… which is a significant footwear investment.  By comparison, the thrifty fashionistas who are taking a paint brush in hand and painting their soles red… are spending a few dollars on tester-sized pots of red paint.

For more information: The case is Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent America, 11- 3303, U.S. Court of Appealsfor the Second Circuit (Manhattan) [click here for Louboutin’s brief and YSL’s brief and Judge Marrero’s 8/10/11 Decision: http://www.nylj.com/nylawyer/adgifs/decisions/081111marrero.pdf]; Red Sole USPTO Registration # 3361597; http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/news-features/TMG9389255/Cash-strapped-women-are-painting-their-shoe-soles-red-to-get-the-Louboutin-look-for-less.html; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/louboutin-shoes-red-soles_n_1662364.html; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.



A monopoly over Red-Soled shoes denied to designer Louboutin 2

In the US, color alone may be protectable as a trademark when it identifies and distinguishes a particular brand.  This type of color, trademark protection is most common with industrial goods like fiberglass insulation that must conform to strict regulatory standards.  For example, ‘pink’ fiberglass is a trademark of Owens Corning.

FASHION, however, is another world entirely and the high-end shoe designer, Louboutin, was recently denied a monopoly over the color RED used on the soles of designer footwear.  Even though Louboutin was granted a US trademark registration for red soled shoes in 2008, a Manhattan judge recently held that Louboutin could not prevent Yves Saint Lauren (and other designers) from designing and selling red-soled shoes.  The judge also stated that Louboutin’s ‘Red Sole’ trademark registration was likely to be cancelled.  (This holding is likely to be challenged, appealed… and possibly overturned).

Wouldn’t it be strange to think of only one designer or fashion house owning an exclusive right to use a particular color?  The court thought so and held the fashion industry is a highly creative industry dependent on access to the full spectrum of colors.

(Interestingly, the judge did create a distinction between Louboutin’s Red Sole mark and other fashion color marks like the Burberry Plaid because the plaid is an arrangement of different colors and not a specific, single color.)

Enjoy this new freedom to paint your soles red.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.


For more information: NY Law Journal: http://www.law.com/jsp/nylj/PubArticleNY.jsp?id=1202510810474  and Judge Marrero’s 8/10/11 Decision:  http://www.nylj.com/nylawyer/adgifs/decisions/081111marrero.pdf.  Red Sole USPTO Registration # 3361597. @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.