Fordham Law

Steal my sole? Heel no! Shoe designer Christian Louboutin sees red, sues YSL

Susan Scafidi in NY Daily News, January 25, 2012

Media Source

Shoemaker to the stars Christian Louboutin strolled back into court Tuesday, eager to give Yves St. Laurent the boot, for swiping his signature red soles.

The French footwear maven, the go-to shoe guy for Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively and Sarah Jessica Parker, appeared for a federal appeals court hearing on his suit against YSL.

The three-judge panel reserved decision in the case, where Louboutin claims YSL infringed on his trademark by producing women’s shoes using the “Chinese Red” soles long associated with his work.

He showed up with a notable sole mate: Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.

“I thought it was very interesting,” she declared after listening to both sides deliver legal arguments.

Louboutin agreed — but admitted the language barrier made the legal nuance a bit difficult.

He launched his signature red undersole in 1992 to give his shoe “energy.”

That energy translated into mega-sales of 240,000 pairs a year and mega-prices of up to $1,000.

Louboutin’s lawyers said his red soles are protected by trademark, just like the blue boxes of Tiffany & Co. and the pink insulation of Owens Corning. The judges appeared color-blind to his claim.

“It’s far reaching to say the color can be trademarked,” said Debra Ann Livingston.

YSL lawyer David Bernstein said the company unveiled a red lacquered shoe at a Paris show without a kick from the Frenchman.

“Louboutin was present at the show and never complained,” he said.