Category Archives: Christian Louboutin

Christian Louboutin’s red soles are a valid and enforceable trademark


Christian Louboutin has a valid and enforceable trademark in his red soles, so the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has found this week. After hearing argument in an appeal filed by Louboutin in his litigation against Yves Saint Laurent, Circuit Judges Cabranes, Straub and Livingston reversed an earlier decision of the District Court that found that a single color could never serve as a trademark in the fashion industry.

However, there was a catch. The judges found that Louboutin had an enforceable trademark in his red soles only where the use of the red lacquered outsole contrasted with the color of the adjoining upper (for example, black high heels with red soles). The Second Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision insofar as it refused to find that “monochrome” shoes (ie shoes where the outsoles were the same color as the shoe itself) infringed Louboutin’s trademark.  That means that high heels like Louboutin’s red Filo patent leather pumps above (£408.33 from net-a-porter) do not receive trademark protection.

The court case had begun in 2011 when YSL prepared to market a line of monochrome shoes including an all red version. The upshot of the appeal decision is that YSL is free to market its monochrome red shoe, but that the court has confirmed that Louboutin has effective trademark protection in respect of the use of the red sole with a contrasting (ie non-red) upper.

The judgment of the court referred to other instances where a single color had held to be capable of trademark protection, such as pink insulation batts and yellow taxi cabs. The judges stated that that there was no per se rule that governed the protection of single-color marks in the fashion industry any more than it could do so in any other industry. The appeal court found that the District Court judge’s finding that a single color could never serve as a trademark in the fashion industry was erroneous and inconsistent with a prior decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The appeal court held that the contrasting red soles met the required test for “distinctiveness” because they had acquired, through use, “secondary meaning” in the public eye. Secondary meaning is acquired when in the minds of the public, the primary significance of a product feature is to identify the source of the product rather than the product itself.

In considering this question, the appeal court referred to the extensive evidence of Louboutin’s advertising expenditures, media coverage and sales success. It found that Louboutin had demonstrated that, in his contrasting red soles, he had created a symbol that had gained secondary meaning that caused it to be uniquely associated with the Louboutin brand.

As further evidence of the notoriety of the brand, the court referred to the confiscation last month of over 20,000 fake Louboutins that were illegally shipped to the United States. The judgment described the seizure as an “example of the interest of plagiarizers in “knocking off” Louboutin’s mark.”

You can read the whole decision of the Second Circuit in Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent Am. Holding, Inc here.

Kim Kardashian has the neon high heel trend covered

Kim Kardashian's shoe closetKim Kardashian has offered the public another view inside her vast shoe closet – and it seems that the neon high heel trend is well catered for. The superstar has today posted images from her high heel collection that include this one of some very pretty pink and lemonade colored high heels.

The pink shoes are Kim’s pink Casadei high heels, which we reported on as being a new celebrity favorite a few months back. The florescent yellow (or “lemonade”) stilettos alongside them are Christian Louboutin’s iconic Pigalle heels.

Meanwhile, the Kardashian show rolls on. Last week Kim posted a picture of her denim-clad backside and wrote, “I think my butt looks too big in these jeans.” At least she doesn’t have to worry about her shoes fitting.

See more pictures from Kim Kardashian’s shoe closet on her Celebuzz site.

Katie Holmes falls “head over heels” for high heels

Which Louboutins did Katie Holmes buy

Newly-single Katie Holmes has celebrated her break-up with Tom Cruise by splashing out on 15 pairs of brand new Christian Louboutin high heels, according to a report in the National Enquirer this week. A source has disclosed that the glamorous actress “went on a tear” at Barneys, purchasing a closet full of suits and dressses at the iconic New York department store – along with lingerie and 15 pairs of Louboutins.

There are sadly no details available of the designer shoes Katie purchased, or how many Louboutins she already owns, but she would be by no means the only celebrity to have a closet full of red-soled high heels. Earlier this year Kim Kardashian confessed that her shoe closet houses 224 pairs of Louboutins alone! And Blake Lively, who recently said it was “embarrassing” how many pairs of Louboutins she owns, reportedly bought 40 pairs of the legendary designer’s shoes at a sample sale in New York last year.

Katie Holmes was often been seen in flat shoes during her five year marriage to Tom Cruise, not wanting to tower over her then-husband in sky-high stilettos. However, with her divorce settlement now finalised, it seems that high heels are firmly back on the 33 year old’s agenda. The Enquirer’s source was even quoted as saying that Katie had fallen “head over heels” for high heels – which might be easy to do if you can afford to splurge out on 15 pairs of Louboutins.

While we don’t know the details of Katie’s purchases, we hope they included a pair of Christian Louboutin’s Daffodile crystal-embellished suede pumps (pictured). The 6.5 inch heels are bound to stop traffic and attract photographers, and they come with a celebrity price tag too: £3,900.60 (over $5,000) from net-a-porter.

Louboutin v Zara court case: “no proven risk” of red sole confusion

Yoyo slingback by Christian LouboutinChristian Louboutin has lost another legal battle to protect his famous red soled shoes from so-called imitators. This month the Cour de Cassation, France’s final Court of Appeal, dismissed the designer’s appeal against an earlier decision in favour of Spanish retailer Zara.

The drama began back in 2008 when Louboutin sued Zara for “counterfeiting and unfair competition.” Louboutin alleged that a $70 pair of red-soled Zara slingbacks were confusingly like his Louboutin “YoYo” slingback, which retailed for nearly ten times the price (the pair above were available through Neiman Marcus for $690).

Louboutin had earlier registered a trademark in France in respect of the exclusive right to make shoes with red soles for “women’s high fashion designer footwear.” The battlefield was thus set for a showdown between Zara – the affordable producer famed for getting the latest fashion designs to a mass market more quickly than anyone else – and Louboutin, who is notorious for his aggressive approach to claiming ownership of putting red soles on high heeled shoes.

Zara lost the first round of the court battle, but in June 2011 the retailer succeeded on appeal with the court ruling that customers would not confuse the two red-soled slingbacks. Zara successfully argued that the terms of Louboutin’s trademark registration were too vague, in a submission reminiscent of the argument accepted when Louboutin unsuccessfully sued YSL. Zara also argued that the trademark did not contain a Pantone colour reference for the red soles.

This month the Cour de Cassation has brought the matter to a close by dismissing Louboutin’s final appeal. It held that there was no proven risk of confusion between the Louboutin and Zara shoes.

The court also required Louboutin to pay compensation to Zara of approximately $3,500. For a company with an annual revenue that exceeds $250 million, that should not pose too much of a problem. And with Zara having an annual revenue itself of about $10 billion, it is unlikely this case was ever really about the money.

In the wake of the court’s decision the Louboutin brand was undeterred, with Alexis Mourot, the group COO and GM saying Louboutin would continue defending its red soles in court cases: “Another red sole trademark application has been successfully registered and we will enforce this trademark against any infringers.”

Christian Louboutin himself initially declined to comment, but subsequently released the following statement:

 Much of the discussion either implies or states that through this ruling we have lost our rights to our world famous Red Sole Trademark. We would like to clarify that what has been disputed and cancelled is only one French registration of said Red sole Trademark.

Christian Louboutin continues to own valid and enforceable trademark rights in its Red Sole Trademark, including in France itself as well as throughout the world. A number of court decisions have recognised the strong association between Christian Louboutin and the Red Sole Trademark, including in France.

Christian Louboutin will continue to protect and enforce its rights to its Red Sole Trademark which has been its iconic signature for the past 20 years. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who continually show support to our brand.”

Louboutin’s appeal in the similar YSL proceedings is still awaiting the court handing down a decision. For our take on the trial in those proceedings, see The birth and rise of the red sole – as the judge saw it.

Beautiful practical booties from Christian Louboutin

Dugueclina bootieChristian Louboutin’s shoes may not be known for their comfort or practicality – in fact earlier this year Louboutin famously declared he hated comfort – but the designer may have gotten the combination just right with this new leopard-look bootie from his fall and winter 2012 collection.

Unlike some of his more towering stilettos, the Dugueclina has a 4 inch heel – that’s an average height, by today’s standards – and no platform. Practicality is enhanced because it is a simple slip-on with no laces or buckles anywhere to be seen.

Best of all, the Dugueclina is not a peep-toe bootie! That fashion trend was difficult to understand in the first place – booties are supposed to keep you warm, not freeze your toes off – so hopefully Louboutin is leading the charge in the other direction.

The Dugueclina exhibits typical Louboutin craftsmanship, with elegant dipped sides and beautiful flowing lines. The bootie is available in black suede or plum suede from Neiman Marcus for $995, or in leopard or black leather from Louboutin for €795.

9 things every woman should own according to Christian Louboutin

Christian Louboutin pigalleDesigner Christian Louboutin has been asked to name 9 things that every woman should own and, not surprisingly, he has nominated a pair of his own high heels for inclusion. What might be surprising though is that only one pair of high heels are included in Louboutin’s list and 7 of the 9 items are not even shoes.

The high heels Louboutin nominated are his iconic Pigalles. “Simple and balanced. I’ve never seen someone who didn’t look good in it,” the designer said. While very popular in their original black, the Pigalle now comes in a whole range of colors, including pivoine  (above, US$625 from Louboutin).

Flats by Christian LouboutinLouboutin also included a pair of flats in his list of 9 things, of his own design, naturally. The Copt flats (above) are included “to add a little pop of color to your look” and are collectors items at US$1,895.

Bag by Christian LouboutinThe other 7 things that Christian Louboutin said that every woman should own were:

  •  A case of Chateau Petit-Village wine
  • Moroccan argan oil for hair
  • French hosiery from Sabbia Rosa
  • A DVD library
  • Christian Louboutin Artemis Bag (collectors edition above, US$2,995)
  • Burlesque and the Art of the Teese by Dita Von Teese, and
  • A pencil skirt by Azzedine Alaia

Is the Anouk Jimmy Choo’s answer to Christian Louboutin’s Pigalle?

Anouk by Jimmy ChooIf you think the high heels from Jimmy Choo (above) seem strangely familiar, then you’re not alone. It seems that these pumps (new to net-a-porter for £304.17) are Choo’s answer to Christian Louboutin’s highly successful Pigalle.

Pigalle by Christian LouboutinLike the Anouk, the Pigalle (above) is also a patent leather pump with a 5 inch heel (120mm). The pointed toe shape and revealing, low cut arch look pretty similar too. As does the front of the shoe, designed to reveal maximum toe cleavage.

It is unknown what Louboutin thinks of the Anouk although we can’t imagine he’s thrilled. “The design that encapsulates my career is the Pigalle, a low-cut, high-heeled pump,” the designer said in 2010. “It’s so subtle in that it adds something sexy to the body, but you don’t immediately realise that it’s the shoe that is making the difference.”

If you’re looking for points of difference between the shoes, then the obvious one is that the Anouk doesn’t have a red sole. Other shoes “copying” his red sole trend is of course one thing that really irritates Louboutin (see our report on his lawsuit against YSL here: the birth and rise of the red sole – as the judge saw it).

The second point of difference is that the Anouk is £25 cheaper than the Pigalle on net-a-porter. It retails for there for £329.17.

Kim Kardashian wears Louboutins to Nobu

These are the crazy Christian Louboutin high heels that Kim Kardashian was spotted wearing on Saturday night to dinner at Nobu Restaurant in Los Angeles. The shoes are collectors items from the Louboutin 20th anniversary capsule collection which is compiled of some of the designer’s favorite pieces.

Isolde made its debut on the runway for New York Fashion Week and it has an appropriately high 6.3 inch heel with a 2.4 inch platform.

The high heels can be yours from the Louboutin website in nude if you are a size 40 (all other sizes are sold out). More sizes are available in black via net-a-porter.

Christian Louboutin

Christian Louboutin

Kate Upton throws footballs in her high heels!

Kate Hudson wears Christian Louboutin shoesShe may not have dressed for football, but Kate Upton was throwing them like a pro when she stopped in at Fox& Friends for a football challenge yesterday. Competing against New York Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, the model happily tossed footballs at a small target while balancing like a pro in black platform Louboutin pumps.

Kate soon removed her Chanel jacket but the high heels stayed on – not that it seemed to decrease the power of her right handed throwing arm. And she achieved a very respectable spiral too.

Kate may have graced the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition last year, but her sporting pedigree extends further than just swimwear. She was an equestrian in her younger years, and took the field in the 2011 Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game.

See Kate Upton throwing footballs in her Christian Louboutin high heeled pumps in the video below.