posted by: freePOrnaoa in General on April 10th, 2011
What do you think about the Louboutin-YSL trademark infringement lawsuit? (YSL’s Palais pump is at left, with a red sole).
Styleite reports that “Court papers state ‘The defendant’s use of red footwear outsoles that are virtually identical to plaintiff’s Red Sole Mark is likely to cause and is causing confusion, mistake and deception among the relevant purchasing public as to the origin of the infringing footwear.’”
LOL! Deception??? As soon as they see the giant “YSL” stamped on the insole, there won’t be any deception. This also doesn’t look like a Loubie to me, and I think the red looks a bit lighter than the usual Louboutin red, though it could be the photo.
Not to be a downer on Louboutin, but I think enough is enough. I don’t believe in a color and the placement of it in a certain place on the shoe being special. What if some designer starts making shiny blue soles and trademarks them? Are we going to start saying other people can’t make a shiny blue sole? What about green on the inside of the shoe, or a certain color toe cap being trademarked? This is ridiculous, there won’t be anything left to design if this kind of behavior continues. In the realm of fashion, let’s encourage free market competition, not protectionist prevention, I say.
Make the jump to read exactly what Louboutin must prove, and how much money Louboutin made a few years ago (the numbers are huge!)
“Infringement may occur when one party, the ‘infringer’, uses a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by another party, in relation to products or services which are identical or similar to the products or services which the registration covers.”
Louboutin has to show the following, and I think they’re going to have a hard time with the ones in bold:
- Strength of the mark
- Proximity of the goods
- Similarity of the marks
- Evidence of actual confusion
- Marketing channels used
- Type of goods and the degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser
- Defendant’s intent in selecting the mark
- Likelihood of expansion of the product lines
I say let the best designer with the best marketing team win in fair, aggressive market competition. I honestly don’t see any reason why red soles only have to belong to Louboutins. What if YSL proves it’s a different shade?
Could it be that the company is afraid that some people are paying a high ticket price for his shoes (up to $4000 or more, and in 2006 Louboutin made 5 million Euros in the U.S. ALONE!) not for the quality, but for the red sole? If so, maybe his marketing team should start pumping up the reputation of his skill and quality more than the color a shoe, and shoppers should start buying quality shoes for their quality; otherwise they could just paint the bottoms red with nail polish or paint.
Honestly, I think that the red soles look vulgar on certain pairs, especially ones where the upper clashes with the red. The red sole, like the Louis Vuitton logo, screams out that you need everyone to know that you wear Louboutins. It’s been kind of a one-trick pony for a while, and people are getting tired of the gimmick. I don’t see them around as much in midtown Manhttan as I used to. He’s got beautiful shoes without the red soles, and I’m going to be buying a pair of those because I like his craftsmanship (not saying I won’t take a cheap vintage or free pair, though!).
I know this will probably get some angry Louboutin-loving responses, and open debate is welcome. I love Louboutin too, but if YSL wanted to make a red-upper shoe that had a contiguous red sole on bottom, I don’t see why not, for aesthetic contiguity, and some think YSL will make this argument in court. It was one thing when Starbucks sued “Charbucks” for trademark infringement, or when McDonalds sued someone for using the exact same golden arches. It’s quite another for a color in a certain place in a fashion product to be in complete control of one company, and if the law stands in Louboutin’s favor, it will only encourage further fashion intimidation. I really hope the law supports designing freedom.