As promised, here are some further thoughts, lessons learned, and remaining unanswered questions concerning the recent and long-anticipated decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent Am. Holding, Inc.

Lessons Learned for Marketing Types:

  • Single color trademarks may be owned, registered, and protected when

–Catlan McCurdy, Attorney

Louboutin attempts to hypnotize you.

The most publicized trademark lawsuit in 2012 has now come to a close, and while Louboutin was denied its motion for a preliminary injunction, the company should be happy it didn’t lose everything.

As you might recall, the District Court initially denied Louboutin’s

At long last, here is a pdf link to the decision, and here is the Second Circuit Court of Appeals summary in a nutshell:

“We conclude 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

The current series of advertising billboards from Allianz — an international financial services company, with its parent company headquartered in Munich, Germany — are really wonderful, and their creativity inspired this post about brand name pronunciation. Here is one billboard example I recently captured in Minneapolis with my iPad, to the left.

How we pronounce

When I snapped this photo over a month ago in Las Vegas, I figured it wouldn’t be much longer before we hear from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the Christian Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent red sole trademark infringement case.

Trademark types are anxiously waiting to hear whether the district court’s denial of

The Louboutin lacquered red sole trademark is the subject of great debate in the trademark world, fashion industry, popular news media, and among law school academics and friends of the court.

I’m just not seeing it. I really don’t see a viable trademark claim here for Louboutin. Not for the reasons

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.


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