The red bottoms of Christian Louboutin shoes make each pair instantly recognizable; Christian Louboutin filed a lawsuit against Yves Saint Laurent for trademark infringement when the brand’s 2011 shoe collection featured shoes with red bottoms.
Louboutin claims that the shoes are virtually identical and are likely to confuse consumers. Despite the fact that the USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) issued a trademark for Louboutin’s red soles back in 2008, the judge is yet to be convinced.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, denied Louboutin’s request for a preliminary injunction, barring future sales of Yves Saint Laurent’s red bottom shoes and even questioned the validity of Louboutin’s trademark. Judge Marrero said the trademark is overbroad and gives Louboutin a monopoly over the color red, which hinders Louboutin’s competitors.
While Louboutin’s lawyers continue to argue that Louboutin is only claiming that the trademark protects only one color of the bottom of a shoe, the judge refuses to agree.
Despite Judge Marrero’s opinion on Louboutin’s trademark, Louboutin must also prove that consumers are likely to be confused by the Yves Saint Laurent shoes, believing that they are buying Louboutin shoes, which is unlikely. In luxury markets consumers are less likely to be confused by similar products. It is unlikely that a consumer will spend $795 on a pair Yves Saint Laurent shoes believing that they are actually Christian Louboutin shoes simply because the shoes have a red sole.
Trademark law and protection extends far beyond labels and packaging. The product itself has protectable elements. To learn more about intellectual property and product protection, call on a Marcus Stephen Harris, LLC attorney to explore the options.