September 2, 2011 by Robert Tharp at 4:19:54 pm
Fashion designer Christian Louboutin is famous for the distinctive red lacquered soles on his high-end heels – so much that he trademarked the color back in 2008 to fend off competitors and knock-offs. The enforceability of that trademark is now in doubt after a New York federal judge found that the color on the shoe is a "decorative element" rather than a feature that can be trademarked, although the legal challenge by designer YSL is far from settled.
The judge stated in his ruling, Louboutin's claim would cast a red cloud over the whole industry, cramping what other designers do, while allowing Louboutin to paint with a full palette.
"Louboutin shoes are readily identifiable by their red soles," says litigation attorney Jennifer Ingram of Dallas-based Munck Carter, who has experience in trademark matters. "Businesses of all
types use trademarks to protect elements that make their products distinctive, including signature colors, but in this case the judge has given signals that he believes the use of color alone is overly broad."
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