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April 13, 2011  | by: Ashley Santucci

Christian Louboutin Pumps with Their Signature Red Soles

Christian Louboutin shoes are instantly recognizable by their red soles. They just might be most recognizable fashion accessory of all time. The red soles are definitely a status symbol and are seen on just about every A-list star in Hollywood.  Now, Yves Saint Laurent’s spring 2011 collection features a pair of red suede shoes with matching red soles, and Louboutin is angry.

Christian Louboutin is suing Yves Saint Laurent America Inc., alleging it violated Louboutin’s trademark for the footwear because the shoes with red soles are “virtually identical” to its own.  According to a suit filed in federal court in Manhattan, Louboutin seeks a court injunction against the sale of the shoes and damages of at least $1 million.

In the complaint, Louboutin stated, “Defendants’ use of a red sole on their infringing footwear threatens to mislead the public, and has impaired plaintiffs’ ability to control their reputation.”

A pair of Louboutin shoes compared to the YSL pumps

In 2008, Louboutin was awarded a trademark for the red sole by The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He originally got the idea for the red-sole shoes when he painted red nail polish on the black soles of a pair of women’s shoes. According to the lawsuit, he introduced the red soles in 1992 and since then they have been on all of the company’s luxury shoes.

Another problem is that these YSL shoes are being sold in stores where Louboutin shoes are also sold, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman. This means that the YSL shoes with the red bottoms could potentially mislead customers and take business away from the actual Louboutin’s.

In defense of YSL, the collection with the red shoes also features navy shoes with navy soles, green shoes with green soles, and purple shoes with purple soles. So, it doesn’t seem like they purposely copied Louboutin’s red soles.

However, no matter what the intention was, it does seem as if YSL is in violation of Louboutin’s trademark. This is definitely a case that will be fought hard by both luxury brands in the courts. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is.

What do you think? Should Louboutin be able to “own” a color, or is YSL definitely wrong?

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