In regards to today’s current case of Christian Louboutin vs. Yves Saint Laurent and yesterday’s first appeal hearing for the case, I would like to make a small tribute in support of an iconic style every woman recognizes: the Christian Louboutin red outsole.
In case, you haven’t been following WWD breaking news for this case over the last several months, here’s a little re-cap.
In August of 2011 Christian Louboutin sued YSL for trademark infringement on Louboutin’s signature: “women’s shoes with red outsoles.” Not only has Louboutin been famous for the red outsoles since the company’s creation about 20 years ago, but the designer himself takes the case very delicately expressing, “to me it is very personal: after all, this is an intrinsic part of my life and my company, which bears my name – and which I have built over the past 20 years and still independently own” Vogue UK, in regards to the appeal yesterday. The initial verdict ruled that Louboutin cannot claim trademark infringement on YSL for the company’s use of the red outsole. The courts justified this claiming that “in the fashion industry color serves ornamental and aesthetic functions vital to robust competition…no fashion designer should be allowed a monopoly on color because as artists they all need to be able to use the full color palette.” Which boils it down to the main issue of determining whether color is a design element or a trademark. For recent WWD articles and news…<a href=”[View the story “A Battle of Red: Christian Louboutin vs. YSL ” on Storify]”>
Whether you are on the YSL team or Louboutin team, one aspect of this case is that it is putting fashion trademarks and copyright protection in the spotlight, an ongoing issue in the fashion industry. In the industry there is trademark protection, such as for brand identifies like logos, but no copyright protection for creative and intellectual work, such as the design and cut of a jacket. The reasoning being that the courts decided apparel is too utilitarian to qualify for copyright protection. While it is a very fine line between trends and direct copying the problem remains: Is there incentive to innovate without ownership? Or does the constant copying drive designers to be more creative and innovative?
Whether for team YSL or team Louboutin and whatever the courts decide, for me and true stylists everywhere, we only think one thing upon eyeing those gorgeous red outsoles: LOUBOUTINS!
Not enough Louboutin for you? I know..me either! Check out “The Louboutin World” at www.christianlouboutin.com