I’ve written about the ongoing “red sole” dispute between Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent before here, but it’s been so long since the case actually started that some of you might have forgotten all about it by now. To summarize, then:
YSL created a version of their ‘Palais’ pumps with a bright red upper and matching sole:
Christian Louboutin objected, claiming that the use of the red sole was an infringement of his own registered trademark. He took the matter to court, seeking an injunction against YSL, plus damages.
What followed was an 18-month legal wrangle which even I gave up trying to follow after a while, but the final twist in the tale involved YSL launching a counter-claim against Louboutin: are you still following this?
Last month, however, the Court of Appeals ruled that YSL could continue to use the red sole… but only on shoes with a matching red upper. On all other shoes, Louboutin’s trademark stands, meaning that other brands who decide to give red soles to non-red shoes risk legal action from the designer. The ruling seems to revolve around the idea that it’s the contrast of the sole against the upper which people connect with a Louboutin design, with a different effect being created by all-red designs like the YSL peep toes at the centre of the dispute.
Happily, both brands seem to be relatively satisfied with this ruling, with YSL’s decision to drop their counter-claims against Louboutin this week officially marking the end of the dispute. Both claim to have “won”, but what do you think – who’s the real winner here?