Christian Louboutin has made a good living <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/03/28/110328fa_fact_collins">understanding the psychology of shoes</a>. His good fortune may be about to change.
In <em>Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent America, Inc.</em>, 11 Civ. 2381 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 10, 2011), Louboutin sued YSL for trademark infringement of its famous red soles. After some initial discovery, Louboutin moved for a preliminary injunction stopping YSL from using red soles in an upcoming fashion line. To obtain a preliminary injunction, Louboutin had to show a "likelihood of success on the merits." In evaluating the history the red sole, the Court traced its history to "King Louis XIV's red-heeled dancing shoes or Dorothy's famous ruby slippers in 'The Wizard of Oz.' " The court also found that in fashion, color serves ornamental and aesthetic functions vital to competition. Accordingly, the court <a href="http://www.nylj.com/nylawyer/adgifs/decisions/081111marrero.pdf">found</a> that Louboutin's trademark was overly broad and its continuation would likely hinder competition. YSL did not move for summary judgment, but the court encouraged it to do so, and indicated on such a motion it would likely revoke Louboutin's trademark.
We can bet that this decision won't die down quietly, and will be appealed, as the red soles are "fashion to die for!"
Special thanks to Cheryl Fuchs for her contributions to this post. For more information about it, or WCM's intellectual property practice, please contact Bob Cosgrove at <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.