In a significant ruling on Wednesday, Judge Victor Marrero denied Christian Louboutin’s request to halt sales of other red-sole shoes made by fellow luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent. The U.S. federal judge stated that Louboutin would not likely prove its use of the color deserved legal trademark protection, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Christian Louboutin, which is well known for adorning the feet of well-heeled fashionistas around the globe + Hollywood celebrities, won a trademark for its signature red soles from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2008. The renowned luxury shoemaker filed suit against YSL in federal court in Manhattan earlier this year, claiming that some of its competitor’s shoe soles (from Yves Saint Laurent’s Cruise 2011 collection) showcased shades of red which were conspicuously close to its own iconic soles.
“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,” the judge stated in his opinion.
Christian Louboutin hasn’t issued a response to the ruling as of yet, but David Bernstein, a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton who represents YSL in the case, couldn’t be happier about the ruling, according to WSJ he stated: “No designer should ever be allowed to monopolize a color”.
Following Wednesday’s ruling, Christian Louboutin’s lawyer, Harley Lewin of McCarter & English LLP, told The Cut:
‘We are profoundly disappointed in Judge Marrero’s decision. Although we are still studying it, it appears he has decided that in the fashion industry, one color should not serve as a trademark. While he acknowledges the fashion industry at large has recognised the Louboutin Red Sole as a trademark source indicator, he has concluded that the fashion industry needs to use colors on outsoles without restriction and this, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, including a recent decision by the 2nd Panel of Appeal at OAMI in the EU that concluded exactly the opposite, calling Mr. Louboutin’s adoption of the bright red outsole brilliant. We will evaluate all the alternatives available in the days to come.’
Die-hard Christian Louboutin fans around the world are certainly clutching their pearls upon hearing news that in addition to today’s ruling, the judge has also ordered the parties to appear in court next week to argue why he shouldn’t simply cancel Louboutin’s trademark altogether.
Many in the fashion industry are concerned about this recent development which only raises more questions for designers who are desperately trying to protect their fashion signatures which are widely considered unique to their individual brands.
We’ll all have to wait and see how this very interesting case unfolds…but in the meantime, give us your thoughts. Do you agree with the Federal Judge’s ruling? Tell us what you think!
Check out some of our favorite celebrities donning the iconic Christian Louboutin red sole!