Kenyon & Kenyon LLP: The War of the Rose Colored Shoes

By Michelle Mancino Marsh and Natasha Sardesai Grant

On August 10, 2011, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a motion for preliminary injunction brought by Christian Louboutin and his design house ("Louboutin") in a high-profile trademark litigation against Yves Saint Laurent America, Inc. ("YSL"). Since 2008, Louboutin has owned United States Trademark Registration No. 3,361,597 (the "Red Sole Registration") for the color red for use on the sole of footwear. Louboutin's red soled shoes are coveted by women worldwide. Prior to this lawsuit, Louboutin had not been shy about enforcing his alleged rights in his red sole shoes, but no one had publicly challenged those rights until YSL. This highly watched case pits French couture footwear house against French couture fashion house, but the decision will impact the entire fashion industry from high-end to mass market. At stake, the freedom to use color for fashion vs. the rights of a trademark owner to stake a claim and build a brand.

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