Los Angeles – Paris shoe-designer Christian Louboutin has become so synonymous with its shoes having red soles, that it was awarded a red-sole trade dress registration in 2008 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). So when Yves St. Laurent(YSL) released its “Palais” peep toe pumps with, you guessed it…red soles, Louboutin was definitely seeing red.
Louboutin filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Manhattan alleging that YSL’s use of the red soles infringes on its trademarked design and will likely cause confusion, mistake, and deception among fashionistas who can afford to drop nearly $1000 for a pair of shoes. The complaint claims that YSL’s red-soles are virtually identical to Louboutin’s Red Sole Mark and is seeking $1 Million in damages.
Regardless of Louboutin’s registered trademark, it will still have to prove a likelihood of confusion among consumers. This may not be difficult to do for Louboutin since both designers market high-end footwear to a similar demographic. The argument can be further supported by the fact that both designers’ shoes can be found in close proximity to each other at retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Barneys New York. Instead the primary question may be whether consumers actually associate the red sole exclusively to Louboutin.
In the meantime, shoe aficionados will need to look past the soles.