When you think of the perfect black pump, a ton of designers may come to mind. But when you add “with a red sole” the only thing that should be associated with this image is the man who brought stilettos back into fashion: Christian Louboutin. At least that is what the he hopes for.
The designer recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of his brand with a huge party at none other than Bergdorf Goodman in NYC. In honor of his anniversary Louboutin also released a book where he re-tells the story of the past 20 years of his brand, including his infamous lawsuit against Yves Saint Laurent. In an effort to stop the flow of the red soles on competing YSL shoes, Louboutin not only wishes to patent his trademark red soles, but also sue the brand for unauthorized use of them. YSL fought back with references to red soles from Louis XIV’s heels to Dorothy’s ruby slippers to examples from their own archives, stating that no one can claim the color red – and that the Louboutin trademark is invalid.
Since we have seen other brands such as Tiffany’s trademark their little blue boxes and Gucci their green-red-green stripes, it is not such a far stretch that CL could patent his famous red soles. However, many believe that Louboutin’s request is far more vague.
The verdict from Judge Victor Marrero sided with YSL, though the outcome of the case still remains uncertain. Legal representatives believe that the color red is not eligible for protection and therefore the trademark should be cancelled. The judge claimed that this would be unfair to other designers because it would limit the gamma of colors they could work with, giving Louboutin and his brand an unfair advantage in the shoe industry.
While this may be true, Louboutin can play fair and still have an advantage over other brands since the quality and design of his shoes is incomparable to any other label. However, with other brands using the red soles as well this takes away the “status symbol” these shoes represent. Even though when most see red soles they make an association with the CL brand only a very educated eye can tell the difference between who is wearing a Louboutin and who is wearing someone else.