It seems every time we turn around, Christian Louboutin is suing someone or other over a red sole. Lesser known Brazilian brand Carmen Steffens is under fire from the brand now, and of course, there’s the current well-documented suit against Yves Saint Laurent. There was also a 2007 case against lower priced shoemaker, Oh Deer! and Steve Madden has definitely had some red soles, though I can’t find any evidence of a lawsuit.
According to Business Week, the Loubs case goes something like this: “Louboutin…said Yves Saint Laurent is selling shoes with red soles that are ‘virtually identical’ to its own, according to a suit filed… in federal court in Manhattan. It seeks a court injunction against the sale of the shoes and damages of at least $1 million.” One meeelion dollars?
The YSL line of shoes in question also come in green with green soles, blue with blue soles and so on, so that red sole hardly seems like a matter of trademark infringement. Not to be lower priced shoe brand prejudiced, but when YSL, owned by Gucci Group, who has a widely beloved shoe collection (hey, hey Tributes), happens to make a red sole, it’s hardly the same as a brand copying an entire Louboutin shoe, slapping a hundred dollar price tag on it, and watching the cash roll in.
Christian has been doing the red sole since 1992, but it wasn’t trademarked until 2008, and he doesn’t happen to agree with the aforementioned theory on YSL being immune from this kind of lawsuit. “I have the biggest respect for the house of Yves Saint Laurent. Having discussed the matter with them and not been able to reach an agreement, we have had to take this to court.”
Louboutin told ES Magazine:
“My company has a trademark on the red sole and if we don’t enforce it this would leave the door open for other brands to copy us while jeopardising the identity of the Louboutin red sole. No one before me has ever used a coloured sole to define a brand’s identity. The red sole has become widely recognised as the distinct sign of my brand in the eyes of women all over the world.”
So, I get the slippery slope and all that, but shouldn’t there be some respect amongst luxury houses to not tarnish another’s reputation with lawsuits like this? It seems a bit whiny to me, and I think the case of the YSL shoe should have been left alone, by nature of it being YSL. Is that just so wrong?