Louboutin vs YSL and the case of the red soled shoes

11 April 2011

Some classic red-soled Louboutins

Uh oh, catfight alert! M. Christian Louboutin has spotted a rival shoemakers selling high heels with a red sole and, he’s not a happy bunny. Nope, apparently there is no room in the marketplace for a second brand of shoes with coloured soles – in this case YSL; particularly since Louboutin themselves claim they were awarded an official trademark for the red sole in 2008. Their spokesperson said;

‘Defendants' use of a red sole on their infringing footwear threatens to mislead the public, and has impaired plaintiffs' ability to control their reputation,’

Apparently, in the States, customers are placed in the potentially befuddling position in department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman according to the complaint by Christian Louboutin, where they can see lots of shoes with the characteristic scarlet soles but not all of them are Louboutin.

Red Yves Saint Laurent shoes with a matching sole

For their part, YSL have declined to comment on the case – although commenters have pointed out that the YSL shoes are part of a range that have soles matching the colour of the upper, rather than various colours shoes each with a red sole.

Cases over copyright infringement do occur in fashion, but rather less often than you’d think – owing to the fact that they are difficult to prove and frequently prove exhaustively lengthy and expensive to fight. The last memorable one was Burberry defeating some counterfeiters last year.

If Christian Louboutin DO have exclusive use over the red soles, then perhaps this case will be easier to decide about. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 

- Naomi Attwood


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