Louboutin’s Battle Over Red-Soled Shoes Ends in YSL Victory

A federal district court judge in Manhattan has ruled against Christian Louboutin SA in a hard-fought case over high-end red-soled women’s shoes.

Judge Victor Marrero denied the Paris-based fashion company’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would have barred top competitor Yves Saint Laurent from selling similar shoes while Louboutin’s trademark-infringement case was litigated, Bloomberg reported.

The high-heeled drama all started back in April after YSL introduced a red suede pump with matching red sole, a unique feature that previously set Louboutin’s shoes apart from other competitors in the luxury shoe realm.

The crimson-colored YSL’s prompted a lawsuit by Louboutin, who claimed to have originated the concept of red soles in his shoes as a trademark nearly 20 years ago when he painted red nail polish on the black soles of a pair of women’s shoes.

That mattered not to Judge Marrero who said Louboutin’s ownership claim to a red sole would harm competition not only in high fashion shoes, but potentially in the markets for other fashion articles as well, putting makers of dresses, coats, bags, hats and gloves in fear of lawsuits.

“Awarding one participant in the designer shoe market a monopoly on the color red would impermissibly hinder competition among other participants,” the judge wrote, adding, “Louboutin’s claim raises the specter of fashion wars. If Louboutin owns Chinese Red for the outsole of high fashion women’s shoes, another designer can just as well stake out a claim for exclusive use of another shade of red, or indeed even Louboutin’s color, for the insole, while yet another could, like the world colonizers of eras past dividing conquered territories and markets, plant its flag on the entire heel for its Chinese Red.”

In an artistic analogy, Marrero said it would be as if Picasso had sued Monet, saying he painted his water lilies with a distinctive indigo that Picasso used on his images of water.

Following the judge’s ruling, which lawyers for Louboutin said was contrary to trademark law, Jyotin Hamid, an attorney for YSL, expressed his pleasure with the decision.

“No designer should be able to monopolize a color in fashion,” he said, also adding that his clients look forward to continuing to manufacture red soled shoes, which they have been doing since the 1970s.

Here’s to seeing red-bottom pumps at Target in the near future.

via Washington Post