Friday, October 21, 2011

Red Sole Fight

Updated Wednesday October 19, 10.31am: Christian Louboutin has launched an appeal against the court's decision not to grant an injunction stopping Yves Saint Laurent from producing red-soled shoes - but a verdict may not be passed until 2012. The shoe label filed its first brief to the Court of Appeal in Manhattan on Monday with the hopes of protecting its trademark red soles, whilst YSL's representatives have not yet filed the expected counter-suit.

"All the briefs from both sides are on a schedule that the Court of Appeals agreed with, to wit: all done and in before the end of the year," Louboutin's lawyer told WWD. "Considering what is at stake, it is probably fair to assume a ruling sometime in early spring, if not earlier."
Updated Friday August 19, 10.08am: An expert in US fashion law has stated that even Tiffany & Co's trademark blue boxes could be at risk of copying if Louboutin's trademark case against Yves Saint Laurent falls apart. "Louboutin's nightmare is that every fast-fashion retailer will begin stirring up vats of red dye because it believes the trademark is officially cancelled or is about to be," Susan Scafidi, director of Fordham University's Fashion Law institute, told WWD. "Louboutin stands to lose so much. This is identity theft for him. Those red soles are almost as recognisable as his name. The philosophical question is, if it doesn't have a red sole, is it a Louboutin? If the shoe has house designs on it, yes, but the question is, will the public see it that way?"
Updated Monday August 15, 9.13am:  Christian Louboutin's lawyer says the shoe designer plans to "fight like hell" against YSL's attempt to overturn his re-sole trademark - and plans to file an appeal against the judge's denial of his requested injunction. Louboutin had asked that YSL be stopped from producing red-soled shoes in its pre-spring/summer 2011-12 collection whilst the two brands fought their trademark dispute in court. Last week the judge ruled that Yves Saint Laurent could continue to produce the shoes in the meantime and hinted that Louboutin's monopoly on the colour could be set to end.
Updated Wednesday August 10, 4.40pm:  Christian Louboutin's request for an injunction to stop sales of red-soled shoes made by Yves Saint Laurent has been denied by the judge considering the case. Judge Victor Marrero said Louboutin wasn't able to prove that its red soles deserve trademark protection.
"Because in the fashion industry colour 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," Marrero concluded, the Wall Street Journal reports.
With the injunction denied, it looks unlikely that Louboutin will win its case against YSL, since it too relies on the association of the red sole only with Louboutin.
Updated Thursday August 4, 8.56am:  Both parties are still awaiting a decision, but the judge deliberating the case between Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent over the use of red-soled shoes sided with Louboutin yesterday as he ruled to disregard exhibits submitted by YSL. Both sides submitted letters declaring their position, but YSL supplied additional articles - including a chart depicting YSL red- soled shoes since 2004 - which Judge Victor Marrero, presiding, ruled inadmissible. Louboutin's lawyer argued the chart's accuracy could not be verified and the judge agreed. Louboutin is seeking an injunction to stop YSL producing red-soled shoes for its 2011 cruise collection. It is not known when a decision might be reached.
Updated Tuesday July 25 8.26am: Shoes were strewn all over a New York courtroom yesterday as the Judge heard preliminary evidence in the case of Christian Louboutin vs Yves Saint Laurent. Louboutin's lawyer Harley Lewin of McCarter & English LLP urged the Judge to grant a preliminary injunction, stopping YSL from producing and selling the red-soled shoes it has produced for its pre-spring/summer 2011-12 collection. Lewin asserted that if the injunction was not granted, it would cause "irreparable harm" to the brand, WWD reports, and could encourage third parties to begin mass producing shoes with red soles.
YSL's representative argued that no brand should have the "monopoly on a colour" - and that red soles have been worn through the ages by everyone from King Louis XIV of France to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, which was greeted by sniggers from the courtroom.
And the judge's final words as he retired to his chambers to consider the footwear evidence he'd seen?
"Nice shoes," he smiled.
The case will resume later today.  
Updated Tuesday May 24, 8.17am: Yves Saint Laurent has responded to accusations that it copied   Christian Louboutin's trademark red soles, by asserting the shoe designer doesn't have a monopoly on the colour.
"Red outsoles are a commonly used ornamental design feature in footwear, dating as far back as the red shoes worn by King Louis XIV in the 1600s and the ruby red shoes that carried Dorothy home in The Wizard of Oz," court papers filed by YSL read. "As an industry leader who has devoted his entire professional life to women's footwear, Mr Louboutin either knew or should have known about some or all of the dozens of footwear models that rendered his sworn statement false."
In a lawsuit launched last month in New York, Louboutin is seeking damages of $1 million from YSL which - Louboutin claims - has copied his signature coloured sole on "virtually identical" shoes.
Updated Wednesday April 20, 4.23pm: Louboutin has spoken out for the first time about his court case against Yves Saint Laurent, following allegations the luxury fashion house copied his famous red soles.
"I have the biggest respect for the house of Yves Saint Laurent," the designer tells the Evening Standard. "Having discussed the matter with them and not been able to reach an agreement, we have had to take this to court. My company has a trademark on the red sole and if we don't enforce it this would leave the door open for other brands to copy us while jeopardising the identity of the Louboutin red sole. No one before me has ever used a coloured sole to define a brand's identity. The red sole has become widely recognised as the distinct sign of my brand in the eyes of women all over the world."
Updated Tuesday April 12, 09.14am: Christian Louboutin is suing a second footwear company, Carmen Steffens, for replicating his signature red soles. The Brazilian label has fought back against the allegations, commenting that it has been using the colour red on its soles since 1996 - before Louboutin officially trademarked it in the US.
"Carmen Steffens France is confident in its position regarding the brand's long-standing use of colour on the soles of some styles of Carmen Steffens shoes, including the infrequent use of various tones of red," Carmen Steffens' president of US operations, Mark Willingham, told Footwear News. "Of the 250 styles in Carmen Steffens France's current collection, only three styles utilise red tones on their soles."
Updated Friday April 8, 1.50 pm: Christian Louboutin is suing Yves Saint Laurent for putting red soles on its shoes.
Louboutin filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in New York on Thursday, alleging that YSL has breached its copyright by using the red sole.
"Mr. Louboutin is the first designer to develop the idea of having red soles on women's shoes," the lawsuit said, Reuters reports. "The defendants' use of red footwear outsoles that are virtually identical to the plaintiffs' Red Sole Mark is likely to cause and is causing confusion, mistake and deception among the relevant purchasing public."
Louboutin - which trademarked the red sole in the US in 2008 - says that it asked YSL to refrain from using the red colour in January this year, but the company has not yet responded. The shoe company is asking the court to award it $1 million in damages and to order YSL to halt production of all red soled shoes.
This isn't the first time the footwear legend has become annoyed at other labels using his trademark colour - in 2007, the label sued US brand Oh Deer! after it replicated his famous red sole.
Report by: Lauren Milligan for Vogue
The other side of the story: YSL
 Yves Saint Laurent's shoes: they had a sole that matched the shoe colour.
Posted by Alexandra for Searching For Style

Christian Louboutin filed a lawsuit against Yves Saint Laurent last month, claiming that YSL violated Louboutin’s red sole trademark. I totally disagreed with this lawsuit, as the collection featured several shoes, all which were in bold colours and had matching soles. While I can understand that Louboutin wants to protect his red sole, I thought his lawsuit was a load of crap. YSL’s collection feature shoes in several colours, a purple shoe with a purple sole, a green shoe with a green sole, and the aforementioned red shoe with the red sole. Don’t get your knickers in a twist Christian, just get over it.
YSL (left) vs Louboutin (right.) Go YSL!!!
Anyway, I was very pleased to hear that YSL is now suing Louboutin by saying that they have fraudulently obtained the sole “use” of the red sole (pardon the pun…) and they have no right to claim exclusivity of a red sole. The court papers go on to explain the following:
“Red outsoles are a commonly used ornamental design feature in footwear, dating as far back as the red shoes worn by King Louis XIV in the 1600s and the ruby red shoes that carried Dorothy home in The Wizard of Oz. As an industry leader who has devoted his entire professional life to women’s footwear, Mr Louboutin either knew or should have known about some or all of the dozens of footwear models that rendered his sworn statement false.” (Vogue)

I have to say that YSL have a point here (and I like the snarky remark about Louboutin’s lack of expert knowledge.) While Louboutin should be allowed to protect himself from counterfeits, this YSL situation is clearly not that. I also feel that there should be more than just one “signature” to a brand, I mean, can’t Louboutin depend on his high quality, his designs, and his (tacky) celebrity following to uphold his brand status, rather than simply his red sole? I think he is being a total diva here, and I hope YSL wins this one. Then we can all run out and start footwear collections with red soles. 

One of my Loubi's :-)
What do you think about the lawsuit and the "Red Sole Fight"?

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