The strangest and silliest story of the fashion week has to be that of Christian Louboutin suing YSL in what Hercule Poirot would term ‘The case of the red sole’.
The basic facts are that Christian Louboutin are suing YSL for infringing copyright after YSL produced a peep toe shoe with a red sole. Christian Louboutin are, of course, famous for their bright red soles that are the trademark of their highly covetable heels. They have been producing red soled shoes since 1992 and they have become a status symbol, due in no small part to the instantly recognisable red sole. A stream of A list celebrities have sported the red sole, Victoria Beckham, Beyoncé, Angelina Jolie, Rihanna, Renee Zellweger, Cameron Diaz, Kate Bosworth…the list goes on and on, and reads like a who’s who of the Fash Pack. Carrie Bradshaw famously wore Louboutins in Sex and The City, whilst co-star Kristen Davis wears them off-screen. The red soled shoes are a beautiful, much lusted after fashion statement.
So what is the problem? Well the spring 2011 YSL collection features the ‘Palais pump’ peep toe. This is a collection of suede peep toes in a range of primary colours, each with a matching sole. There is a green shoe with a green sole, a purple shoe with a purple sole, and a red shoe with a red sole. And it is that red shoe with its red sole which is the crux of the issue.
The court papers for the case say…’The defendants use of red footwear outsoles that are virtually identical to plaintiff’s Red Sole Mark is likely to cause and is causing confusion, mistake and deception among the relevant purchasing public as to the origin of the infringing footwear.’ In other words, people are not sure if they are buying YSL or Louboutins.
Please! I think this is just patently ridiculous. Firstly, it is an insult to the intelligence of all people who buy Louboutins, I’m sure they don’t just look at the sole and say ‘Yep, Louboutins – I’ll have these’, but probably try said shoes on, thereby seeing the brand on the insole of the shoe. Shoe departments and stores will have the shoes arranged by brand, making it easy for the purchaser to find the exact brand they want without having to check every single shoe.
There is a wider question here too. Are Louboutin saying that people are more interested in the name rather than the actual design? It would seem so. By saying that this is causing deception amongst the relevant paying public, it infers that people are buying the YSL believing it to be Louboutins, when they really want to buy Louboutins. But don’t we buy shoes based on look and design as well as just name?
A sole seems to be something too generic to be copyrighted, whilst a colour is also something that should be the right of everybody. It’s a good job that Santa Claus and Little Red Riding Hood never copyrighted their shade of red or it could’ve been Christian Louboutin in big trouble!
Hot Louboutin’s for the festive season.