Louboutin Loses Hold on Red Soles


(Sean Gallup/GETTY IMAGES)

The high-fashion trademark lawsuit that caused a flurry of bad puns is over.

For now.

On Wednesday, Judge Victor Marrero of Federal District Court in Manhattan declined to grant a request by Christian Louboutin for a preliminary injunction against Yves Saint Laurent for reproducing Louboutin’s trademarked red sole. Louboutin accused YSL of trademark infringement in April for duplicating the red soles on four shoe styles in YSL’s 2011 Cruise Collection. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Louboutin a registered trademark for the red soles in 2008.

According to the New York Times, Judge Marrero ruled: “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 protection in the market to have secondary meaning.”

Harvey Lewin of McCarter & English represented Louboutin and told Agence France-Presse: “We are profoundly disappointed at the judge’s decision. We are currently evaluating all alternatives.”

The decision could make it possible for other designers to produce red-soled shoes. In April, Louboutin filed a second lawsuit against Sao Paulo-based Carmen Steffens of Brazil for manufacturing shoes with “rosette” soles.

Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.

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