Breaking News Fashion Law: 2nd Circuit Delivers Opinion on Color Trademarks in Louboutin/Saint Laurent Red Shoes Case

Yesterday, the 2nd Circuit un-muddied the waters concerning fashion and color trademarks and closed another chapter in the red sole dispute between Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent.  

For a detailed overview of this breaking development, read Law360's, 2nd Circ. Ensures Color's Place as Fashion Trademark.

The 2nd Circuit concluded that:

the District Court's holding that a single color can never serve as a trademark in the fashion industry, Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent Am., Inc., 778 F. Supp. 2d 445, 451, 457 (S.D.N.Y. 2011) [enhanced version available to subscribers], is inconsistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Products Co., 514 U.S. 159, 162 (1995) [enhanced version available to subscribers] .... We further conclude that Louboutin's trademark, consisting of a red, lacquered outsole on a high fashion woman's shoe, has acquired limited "secondary meaning" as a distinctive symbol that identifies the Louboutin brand. ... [P]ursuant to Section 37 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1119 we limit the trademark to uses in which the red outsole contrasts with the color of the remainder of the shoe. We conclude that the trademark, as thus modified, is entitled to trademark protection. Because Louboutin sought to enjoin YSL from using a red sole as part of a monochrome red shoe, we affirm in part the order of the District Court insofar as it declined to enjoin the use of red lacquered outsoles in all situations.

Read the entire opinion: Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves St. Laurent Am. Holding, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18663 (2d Cir. 2012) [enhanced version available to subscribers].


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