Monsieur Louboutin is losing his battle against French-power-house Yves Saint Laurent over a pair of red-soled Palais pumps. You may recall when we (and everyone in the fashion industry) mentioned this petty scandal a few weeks back. While we have, to date, admired Christian for his insistence, there are few in the community, or otherwise, who believed he had much of a case, or, frankly, much of a reason to pursue one.
To begin with, his is a fairly new brand. Yes, his soles are, for most women, a distinct mark of his brand, but that’s hardly cause for excluding other, much more established, houses from using what is, after all, a primary color.
The latest blow to his cause is a ruling from Manhattan Federal Judge Victor Marrero, whose ruling stated, “Because in the fashion industry color serves ornamental and aesthetic functions vital to robust competition, the court finds that Louboutin is unlikely to be able to prove that its red outsole brand is entitled to trademark protection, even if it has gained enough public recognition in the market to have acquired secondary meaning,” Judge Victor Marrero wrote in his opinion. This comes after Louboutin filed an injunction against Yves Saint Laurent to prevent the distribution of the Palais pump in question as the trial continues in France.
Harvey Lewin, an attorney for Camp Christian, said, “We think the judge missed it… The court essentially indicated that it does not believe that a single color can be a trademark in the fashion industry. We’re disheartened.”
Missed what, exactly, Mr. Lewin? That what was originally a flight of designer fancy and later became his sole brand identity (pun intended) is hardly able to be defended in an industry where colors are not the right of any given designer, but merely one tool in a designer’s box? Can you imagine the uproar if someone, anyone, attempted to trademark black? Or even, as we saw last season, the awful uprising of Salmon?
There is now a motion to cancel Louboutin’s earlier-granted trademark on the red sole, and representatives for both Monsieur Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent will appear later this month to provide arguments.
I’m willing to wager the motion will be upheld. Either way, the entire debate has overshadowed the real point: perhaps it’s time for Monsieur Louboutin to get back to designing shoes which stand out from his competitors in ways other than the color of their sole.
No more resting on your red-lacquered laurels, my friend.