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Head over heels

16-08-2011

An U.S. federal judge has stepped on Christian Louboutin’s red-soled shoes.

The French shoemaker Christian Louboutin, famous for his red soled shoes worn by celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Halle Berry, was denied a request to halt the sales of similar shoes made by Yves Saint Laurent by a court injunction. The offending Yves Saint Laurent red suede pumps in its spring 2011 collection do not have a glazed look like those of the Louboutin brand. It also carries shoes that have purple, navy and green soles.

A color trademark in the fashion world
The fashion house of Louboutin filed a trademark for red soles in 2008 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In this case however, it seems that federal Judge Marrero was not swayed: in a 30 page ruling, Judge Marrero states the color trademark is overly broad: “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, even if it has gained enough public recognition in the market to have acquired secondary meaning”.

Louboutin’s lawyer admitted to being “disappointed” with the ruling and claimed that although he had not yet had a chance to confer with his client, he believed Louboutin would “win hands down” on an appeal. No doubt the fashion industry will follow the related future events very closely.