Last August, Christian Louboutin was denied an injunction against Yves Saint Laurent. The French shoe genius hoped to block sales of a pair of all-red pumps from YSL's Resort 2011 collection (right), but the appellate judge denied the injunction and even raised questions about the legality of Louboutin's 2008 brand trademark of the red sole: “color…performs a creative function; it aims to please or be useful, not to identify and advertise a commercial source.”
Hating the decision, Louboutin filed an appeal, and trotted back to court yesterday, with CFDA head Diane Von Furstenberg at his side. The sitting judge expressed some reservations concerning last August's decision, and is currently quietly wondering whether or not to uphold or overturn the previous ruling.
In my not-so-expert opinion, Louboutin shouldn't have a case. The designer's signature isn't really a red sole, it's the color contrast between the heel and the sole, the flash of red which bursts up as the shoe's wearer walks away. The shoemaker's trademark, as I understand it, was intended to prevent lower-priced copycats from mimicking that effect; it would have protected Louboutin in the case of a Steve Madden, for example, manufacturing a lower-quality, mass-market shiny black heel with a Chinese red sole.
YSL is a Louboutin competitor, and both brands compete in the market on the basis of their products' quality, sure—but also on the basis of prestige. The legendary French house wouldn't jeopordize its esteemed status (and bottom line) by designing a rip-off Louboutin pump—and it didn't. The contentious monochromatic red shoe is just that: an all-red shoe. All people should be allowed to design and sell red shoes: you can't copyright a primary color or a basic apparal category.
For what it's worth, we all missed out on quite the fashion scene: DVF wore "gold-rimmed aviators," Louboutin confronted his own legacy, young women tottered around in red-soled pumps, Fordham's Fashion Law professor Susan Scafidi got quippy.
"I'm voting with my feet," she said, showing off her $745 Louboutins. "I think [the previous judge] colored outside the lines."
The worst thing to come out of this legal slog? The jokes.
Image via HighHeelsDaily