French designer Louboutin started using a glossy red sole on his high fashion shoes in 1992 and trademarked the red sole in 2008. YSL’s 2011 spring collection included a red shoe with red sole – and a blue shoe with a blue sole, a green shoe with a green shoe, etc. In April Louboutin made the news when he filed a trademark infringement suit against YSL for using the red soles.
Last week the injunction against YSL was denied. In US District Judge Victor Marrero’s words ” . . . no one should be barred from using color to achieve their aesthetic.”
It’s a controversial decision and there will be an appeal. Both sides are covered in this CNN article.
The big question is: When is it appropriate/not appropriate to trademark the use of a color?