An interesting dispute currently being fought in the courts between fashion houses Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent is testing the limits in what can count as intellectual property in the business of fashion.
Louboutin filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Yves Saint Laurent because it said its trademark red soles were being infringed upon by the company. A U.S. federal judge last week ruled that Louboutin could not trademark a color when it comes to using color for fashion.
Louboutin actually acquired a trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2008. The judge did not completely rule against Louboutin and throw out the trademark yet. This week the two sides are set to argue in court over whether or not the judge should dismiss Louboutin’s trademark.
According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal on the topic, certain complicated patterns and color uses have been trademarked and successfully defended by companies. For example, Tiffany’s has a trademark on its blue boxes and Burberry’s plaid pattern is protected. Louis Vuitton’s monogram is also trademarked.
Many people associate red-soled shoes they see with the luxury Louboutins –and Louboutin would like to keep it that way. A recent pair of all red shoes by Louboutin and a similar all-red pair by Yves Saint Laurent were both selling for $795 in New York City, according to The Wall Street Journal. It will be interesting to see whether Louboutin will get to keep its trademark and its red soles.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Color Wars: Luxury Makers Battle Over Red-Soled Shoe,” Ray A. Smith and Ashby Jones, Aug. 11, 2011