The infamous red soled shoe designer Christian Louboutin SA, put on the gloves yesterday against Yves Saint Laurent for selling shoes with red soles that are “virtually identical” to its own. In the suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan yesterday, Louboutin seeks a court injunction against YSL’s sale of the shoes and damages of at least $1 million. (Christian Louboutin SA v. Yves Saint Laurent America Inc., 11-2381, U.S. District Court, S.D.N.Y.)
Saint Laurent has been selling red-sole shoes under brand names such as Tribute, Palais and Woodstock at high-end fashion stores that also sell Louboutin footwear, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman, according to the complaint. Bloomberg Newsweek.
“Defendants’ use of a red sole on their infringing footwear threatens to mislead the public, and has impaired plaintiffs’ ability to control their reputation,” stated in the Louboutin complaint. Louboutin concern could rest in the idea that the public will see a YSL shoe with the red sole and be mislead into thinking it is a Louboutin, therefore causing confusion over the source of the shoe.
Louboutin got the idea for the red-sole shoes when he painted red nail polish on the black soles of a pair of women’s shoes. He introduced the red soles in 1992, and have been adorned on every Louboutin sole ever since, according to the lawsuit.The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Louboutin a federal trademark for the red sole in 2008. Yves Saint Laurent is a unit of Paris-based PPR, which owns Gucci and other luxury brands.
Interesting enough, the YSL Tribute, Palais, and Woodstock on saksfifthavenue.com do not appear to have the notorious red sole. But apparently they do exist because according to the complaint, Louboutin was informed by Yves Saint Laurent executives by letter in January that they planned to “continue to sell the infringing footwear”. Sounds a bit risky, I guess we will have to wait and see how the court feels about the matter…