French shoe designer Christian Louboutin has won it trademark law suit in the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York against Yves Saint Laurent for its women’s shoes with red soles and different colored tops. The court also ruled the company can’t get trademark protection for a design that is simply all red.
The appeals court overturned U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero ruling that “that a single color can never serve as a trademark in the fashion industry. “The court used a 1995 Supreme Court ruling to support it’s decision that “color alone, at least sometimes, can meet the basic legal requirements for use as a trademark. It can act as a symbol that distinguishes a firm’s goods and identifies their source, without serving any other significant function.”
On January 29, 2008, the United States Patent and Trademark Office registered the Louboutin trademark, which has applied the color red to the outsoles of women’s shoes since 1992.
The Appeals Court said Louboutin’s bright red outsole had acquired limited secondary meaning as a distinctive symbol that identifies the Louboutin brand, and it pointed out Louboutin’s successful efforts to market the distinctive look and the fact that Louboutin’s U.S. retail sales of shoes for 2011 was at about $135 million to support its conclusion. It noted that the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection had recently seized over 20,000 counterfeit Louboutin shoes illegally shipped to the United States.
At Barneys New York, you can pick up a pair of Louboutin’s red-soled high-heeled shoes for a mere $450 to $3,995 a pair.