Christian Louboutin denied injunction in court battle over rival brands’ right to use red sole

Christian Louboutin denied injunction in court battle over rival brands’ right to use red sole

August 11, 2011

Christian Louboutin has lost a round in its New York court battle against Yves Saint Laurent.

The luxury footwear label, which is a favourite with stars including Kate Moss, Kim Kardashian and Victoria Beckham, is seeking more than $1million damages over claims that its distinctive red lacquered sole had been ‘copied’ by rival brands.

But a federal judge in Manhattan has denied its request for a preliminary injunction. Both parties have been ordered back to court next week.

The Christian Louboutin lawsuit, which was first filed in April this year, claims that Yves Saint Laurent’s sale of lookalike shoes in Manhattan stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman was ‘likely to cause and is causing confusion, mistake and deception among the relevant purchasing public.’

The Parisian shoemaker, who cited four YSL designs in the 2011 cruise collection, has asked the court to order his rival to stop manufacturing similar products.

The lawsuit states that Mr Louboutin came up with his red sole signature nearly 20 years ago, when he painted red nail polish on the black soles of a pair of women’s shoes.

It read: ‘Mr Louboutin is the first designer to develop the idea of having red soles on women’s shoes.

‘The location of the bright colour on the outsole of a woman’s pump is said to provide an alluring “flash of red” when a woman walks down the street, or on the red carpet of a special event.’

But last month YSL decided to counter sue, stating that the Christian Louboutin, which claims to have been awarded an official trademark for the red sole in 2008, had no right to monopolise a colour.

YSL’s legal team said: ‘Louboutin’s trademark should have never been granted.

‘We just don’t think that any fashion designer should be able to monopolise any colour.’
Last week, it appeared that Judge Victor Marrero had sided with Mr Louboutin’s lawyers, when he refused to accept arguments submitted by YSL.

YSL’s lawyers argued that the label had been using red as a signature colour since it launched in 1962, and that even King Louis XIV of France and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had worn red-soled shoes.
But lawyers for Christian Louboutin argued that these were unreliable findings and Judge Marrero agreed.

It is not known when a verdict on the case will be reached as the Judge has asked for more time.