Soled out

Christian Louboutin’s trademark red soles, are indeed… a trademark! Although last year a federal judge in New York rejected trademark protection for Louboutin’s ‘red bottoms’, thus failing to prevent competitor Yves Saint Laurent from selling a red shoe with a red sole.

But now the tables have turned for Louboutin.

We posted earlier about the Louboutin case (here and here) and the difficulty to register non-traditional signs as trademarks. A US Federal Court now ruled that the French shoemaker is entitled to trademark protection for its iconic red soles on the bottoms of women’s high heels, except when the shoe itself is red (i.e. like in the case with YSL).

So, as long as the sole contrasts with the rest of the shoe, trademark protection can be invoked.

This is interesting, as this further specifies the scope of the trademark. Louboutin cannot claim the red sole per se, but can claim the red sole that contrast with the other parts of the shoe. Although this may answer one question, it raises many more. What does ‘contrast’ mean? Is a red sole on a pink shoe sufficient contrast? This is something future cases must clarify.

For now Louboutin is dancing with joy. On their high heels, of course.


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