DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Louboutin Red: Blending Into the Background

Posted in Branding, Fair Use, Infringement, Law Suits, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Trademarks

A purely hypothetical puzzle, but I’m wondering, would Christian Louboutin have a viable trademark claim if Yves Saint Laurent sold women’s shoes in boxes bearing the above seemingly random grid of letters, each letter having equal type, style, font, color and emphasis?

For those of you who answered with a strong “of course not,” I suspect your answer must change if selected highlighting is added in a way that emphasizes the LOUBOUTIN mark, makes it clearly legible, and causes it to visually “pop” from the letter grid, as shown below:

Here is the point. In Christian Louboutin’s current trademark infringement lawsuit against Yves Saint Laurent (asserting Louboutin’s lacquered red sole trademark for women’s high fashion designer footwear), it is important to appreciate that the allegedly infringing women’s shoes at issue are monochrome red in color, meaning the entire shoe is red, each and every portion, not just the sole (which is the extent of Louboutin’s registered non-traditional single color trademark), making it very difficult to argue that the allegedly infringing Yves Saint Laurent red sole does anything other than blend into the background of their entirely red-colored shoes.

In fact, I’m left wondering whether an average consumer would even discern Louboutin’s red sole mark in Yves Saint Laurent’s monochrome red high heel shoes, anymore than they would notice the LOUBOUTIN mark in the colorless letter grid at the top of this post, or whether they would more likely and simply see a harmless sea of letters and a harmless sea of red throughout the entire shoe.

Stay tuned for some more of my thoughts on Louboutin’s lacquered red sole trademark infringement claim against Yves Saint Laurent.

In the meantime, below the jump you’ll find a depiction of the same letter grid with more highlighted words that are relevant to the current trademark battle between Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent.

First, how are they relevant? And, what other words can you find beyond those highlighted ones?

For other DuetsBlog coverage — by a few of our more fashion-minded authors (Tiffany and Catlan) – of the Louboutin trademark battle involving the lacquered red sole trademark, see here, here, here, here, and here.