Christian Louboutin Vs. Yves Saint Laurent
In 2011, Christian Louboutin company filed a trademark infringement of its red-soled shoes against designer Yves Saint Laurent. The firm is expecting that the YSL shoe design will be revoked and is seeking US $1 million in damages. However, in August 2011, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero denied the firm's request to stop the sale of women's shoes with red soles by Yves Saint Laurent. The judge questioned the validity of the trademark, writing, "Louboutin's claim would cast a red cloud over the whole industry, cramping what other designers do, while allowing Louboutin to paint with a full palette." Judge Marrero also wrote, "Louboutin is unlikely to be able to prove its red outsole brand is entitled to trademark protection, even if it has gained enough public recognition in the market to have acquired secondary meaning." In his thirty-two page decision, Judge Marrero compared fashion designers to painters and noted how creativity for both is dependant upon using color as "an indispensable medium" that "plays a unique role." The Court observed that: "The law should not countenance restraints that would interfere with creativity and stifle competition by one designer, while granting another a monopoly invested with the right to exclude use of an ornamental or functional medium necessary for freest and most productive artistic expression by all engaged in the same enterprise." Jewelry company Tiffany & Co., which has its blue box trademarked, filed an amicus curiae brief focusing on trademarking a color. Fashion periodical WWD reported that Tiffany's brief supports Louboutin's appeal to reverse the decision made by Judge Marrero. In September 2012, the court finally ruled that Louboutin retains the exclusive right to use the color red on the bottom of its shoes whenever the outer portion of the shoe is any color besides red, while Yves Saint Laurent can continue to sell its shoes with red soles as long as the whole shoe is red. The YSL monochromatic shoe - red upper, red outsole - over which the lawsuit originally had been brought and against which Louboutin had tried and failed to get a preliminary injunction, therefore won't infringe the trimmed-down trademark.
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