Louboutin v YSL
Lay off my red-soled shoes
Can a colour be a trademark?
Aug 20th 2011 | from the print edition
APPEARING on “So You Think You Can Dance”, an American TV show, Jennifer Lopez starts her song “Louboutins” by lying sulkily in sheets of red silk on a bed in a giant sparkly shoe and making a phone call. “Hello, Santa,” she says, batting her eyelashes, “I would like a shiny new pair of Louboutin shoes. You know, the ones with the high heels and red bottoms.”
In the 20 years since Christian Louboutin made his first pair of ladies’ shoes with shiny red-lacquered soles, his vertiginously heeled, sexy, colourful and nearly unwearable creations have become an object of desire for celebrities like Ms Lopez, Angelina Jolie and Madonna, who even lets her daughter Lourdes wear a metal-studded number. Today the puckish Frenchman is the biggest star in high-fashion shoe design, selling about 240,000 pairs a year in America at prices ranging from $395 for espadrilles to as much as $6,000 for a “super-platform” pump covered in crystals. The revenue of his company, Louboutin, is forecast at $135m this year.
Yet all this could be at risk, says Louboutin’s lawyer, if Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), another fashion firm, continues to gain the upper hand in a legal dispute between the two companies. On August 10th a district court in New York refused to grant a preliminary injunction stopping YSL from selling shoes with a red sole that Louboutin says infringe its trademark. The judge did not believe that a designer could trademark a colour. He asked both parties to appear again in court on August 19th to decide how to proceed with the case.
“We don’t like it,” says Harley Lewin of McCarter & English, an American law firm which is representing Louboutin. The judge has overreached, according to Mr Lewin, by making this a case about the justification of Louboutin’s trademark rather than a ruling on a request for a temporary injunction prohibiting the sale of red-soled YSL shoes. He intends to appeal against the decision.
美国McCarter & English律师事务所负责代理Louboutin,事务所的律师Harley Lewin说：“对审判结果我们感到很失望”。他还表示法官判定这个案子仅仅围绕在Louboutin商标的合法性上，对于向伊夫圣罗兰下达临时处分命令，禁止其销售红底鞋的请求根本不予受理。他表示会对这个审判结果提起上诉。