Yves Saint Laurent‘s legal team is fighting back against a lawsuit from Christian’s Louboutin, which claims that the French fashion house’s red-soled shoes infringe its trademark red-bottomed kicks. But to hear YSL tell it, Louboutin should never have been given that trademark in the first place.
Louboutin filed the lawsuit in April after YSL debuted a series of one-color shoes: blue shoes with blue soles, green shoes with green soles and, of course, red shoes with red soles. Louboutin was given the US trademark for red soles in 2008, and is asking a judge in Manhattan to stop YSL from selling the shoes for fear that shoppers will mistake them from Louboutins. YSL has pointed out that people have been putting red soles on shoes for as long as they’ve been putting, well, any kind of decoration on shoes, so Louboutin shouldn’t have been given the sole legal right to the practice — or the color. David Bernstein, a lawyer for YSL, told Women’s Wear Daily “We just don’t think that any fashion designer should be able to monopolize any color.”
But Louboutin’s lawyers say YSL is purposefully messing with what a practice that it knows is off limits.
“We are not claiming to own every red under the sun. There’s a particular red that Christian uses on his shoes, a bright, lacquered red,” [Louboutin's attorney Harley Lewin] said. “We aren’t saying burgundy or orange-red, we aren’t saying pink. We don’t own any other red but that red.”
And the red used by YSL? “You can’t tell the difference between the two [reds],” he said. “They are damn close.”
And, well, they are. The first time we saw the shoe in question, we thought it was a Loub — and a really nice Loub at that. And if confusing a consumer is the legal standard for trademark infringement, we consider that trademark infringed. How the court will interpret the case, however, remains to be seen.