You don't have sole right to red soles, YSL tells Louboutin

 

When Christian Louboutin sued Yves Saint Laurent for trademark infringement last month in a legal tussle over a pair of shoes, it was clear the accused, one of the grandest labels in France, would not take the slur lying down.

Now YSL is fighting back in a dispute which started with a collection of pumps. The best-selling styles, including the Tribute, the Palais and the Woodstock, came with coloured soles which perfectly matched their leather uppers. It was the red shoes Louboutin and his legal advisors took exception to.

Louboutin's designs have been spotted on the feet of celebrities from Oprah Winfrey and Carla Bruni to Victoria Beckham and Beyoncé Knowles. The designer is among the most prolific on the international catwalks and, in his case, the prized instant recognition which is fashion's life blood comes with his poppy-red lacquered soles.

Louboutin claims to have introduced his trademark in the early Nineties while studying a prototype. "There was this big, black sole," he told The New Yorker recently, "and then, thank God, there was this girl painting her nails." He swiftly used the enamel in question to cover the shoe and one of fashion's status symbols was born.

Or so he thought. YSL argues that Louboutin has no monopoly on the colour – on the soles of his shoes or indeed elsewhere – and that its shoes have sported red soles since the Seventies. "Red outsoles are a commonly used ornamental design feature in footwear, dating as far back as the red shoes worn by King Louis XIV in the 1600s and the ruby-red shoes that carried Dorothy home in The Wizard of Oz," said court papers filed by Yves Saint Laurent and released this week.

"As an industry leader who has devoted his entire professional life to women's footwear, Mr Louboutin either knew or should have known about some or all of the dozens of footwear models that rendered his sworn statement false."

Louboutin, 47, is seeking damages of $1m (£620,000) from YSL which, he argues, has copied his signature sole on "virtually identical" shoes. According to court documents, Louboutin, which sells more than 500,000 pairs of shoes in more than 40 countries, was awarded a registered trademark for its red sole by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2008.

"The shiny red colour has no function other than to identify to the public that they are mine," the designer told a court in his application. With this in mind, Louboutin has, in the past, obtained injunctions against several companies attempting to replicate it, including, last February, Kimera International, which was found to have "engaged in acts of trademark counterfeiting and trademark dilution." Taking on a name with the clout of Yves Saint Laurent, today owned by PPR (Pinault-Printemps-Redoute), among the largest luxury goods conglomerates in the world, is another matter.

Charles Colman, a New York-based intellectual property rights lawyer told trade paper Women's Wear Daily that any litigation was likely to prove a long, drawn-out affair. "When you're dealing with two large parties, both of which have large and skilled law firms working for them, you don't have that leverage differential that you may have in other situations," he said, going on to point out that it was also less likely that inflated legal fees would run either party into the ground.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey
film
Sport
Bafetibis Gomis of Swansea City is stretchered off at White Hart Lane
football
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
people
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner - Night Shift

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A leading Leicestershire based chilled food ma...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant - ACCA, ACA or ACMA - Construction Sector

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant (ACCA, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - PR and Broadcast - OTE £35,000

    £16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has an exciting op...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor - Shifts

    £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This European market leader for security...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot