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Louboutin vs YSL battle finally comes to an end

  Wednesday 2nd January 2013

It’s all about starting afresh, turning over a new leaf. Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent finally have that chance after their 18-month long court battle.

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Worn by fashion icons such as Victoria Beckham, Rihanna and Blake Lively, Louboutin began his multi-million-pound shoe empire in 1992. The pivotal moment in his career was when he impulsively painted red nail polish on the back of a pair of women’s shoes because they “lacked energy”.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York came to a final decision on December 27th 2012, dismissing Christian Louboutin’s case against Yves Saint Laurent. The official order cites that Louboutin acknowledged that it has no further claims in this case.

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It all started back in April 2011 when Louboutin sued YSL for $1 million in damages for trademark infringement. YSL has used red soles since the 1970s, but a ruling back in 2008 states that red undersides were symbolic of Louboutin. After much debating, judges eventually ruled that Louboutin’s trademark did not cover monochrome shoes.

YSL’s Resort 2011 collection triggered this conflict between the two powerhouses. The collection featured red suede shoes with matching red soles, alongside purple shoes with purple soles, navy with navy soles and green with green soles; but it was the red soles that sparked the legal action.

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In September 2012, the US Federal Court of Appeals ruled that Christian Louboutin could protect its iconic red soled shoes from copycats, except when the shoe itself is red.

YSL’s lawyer responded to the verdict by saying: “We’re all for designers protecting their ideas in the age of the counterfeit – and we won’t deny that Louboutin’s red soles are a cultural icon with so much cachet that even singer Adele paid homage to the brand with her black-over-red Grammy manicure – but we have to side with the judges on this one. No designer should be allowed to monopolise a primary colour for fashion.”

Pooja Sahny

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