As one fashion court case heats up, another (almost) draws to a close.
Christian Louboutin SA has emerged victorious in its battle against Yves Saint Laurent: a New York federal court of appeals has granted Louboutin trademark protection over its signature red sole, according to Women's Wear Daily.
The case has been ongoing since April 2011 when Christian Louboutin sued YSL for using red soles on the bottom of its pumps. The lawsuit, which demanded $1 million in damages, stated, "Defendants' use of red footwear outsoles that are virtually identical to plaintiffs' Red Sole Mark is likely to cause and is causing confusion, mistake and deception among the relevant purchasing public."
The 2011 suit was based on a trademark granted to Louboutin in 2008. Filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the trademark states that Louboutin has the exclusive right to make red-soled shoes for "women’s high fashion designer footwear."
Yet when Louboutin's suit against Yves Saint Laurent came before U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August 2011, Judge Marrero questioned the legitimacy of such a trademark in the first place, calling it "overly broad." The entire YSL team agreed: David Bernstein, a lawyer representing YSL, told the Wall Street Journal, "No designer should be able to monopolize a color in fashion."
Louboutin's team appealed the district court decision almost immediately and Judge Marrero postponed a decision on whether to cancel the 2008 trademark until the appeals court made its ruling. Now, according to Women's Wear Daily, the federal appeals court has decided to reject the earlier ruling, stating that Louboutin is entitled to its trademark on red soles, except when the entire shoe is red.
Except that the YSL shoes were entirely red, i.e. the battle isn't over. With the new ruling to consider, the case will return to the lower court for review by a trial judge.
And that's been your biannual update on the Louboutin vs. YSL "red sole" battle. Read more at WWD.com.
UPDATE: Yves Saint Laurent released a statement following the decision, emphasizing their victory when it comes to the all-red shoes. "The Court has conclusively ruled that YSL's monochromatic red shoes do not infringe any trademark rights of Louboutin, which guarantees that YSL can continue to make monochromitic shoes in a wide variety of colors, including red," said David H. Bernstein of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, YSL's rep on the case. He added, "YSL will continue to produce monochromatic shoes with red outsoles, as it has done since the 1970s."
What do all these Louboutins and YSL heels look like? Check out some below: