August 16, 2011 - A federal judge has ruled that although Christian Louboutin's red-soled shoes "flaunt a glamorous statement that pops out at once" when worn on red carpets and runways, the shoe designer cannot prevent competitor Yves Saint Laurent from making shoes with scarlet outsoles.
"Because in the fashion industry color serves ornamental and aesthetic functions vital to robust competition," wrote US District Judge Victor Marrero in his ruling, "the court finds that Louboutin is unlikely to be able to prove that its red outsole brand is entitled to trademark protection."
The trademark dispute arose from the fact that four shoe styles in YSL's 2011 "Cruise collection" featured a red sole. However, YSL claims to have used red soles on its shoes as early as the 1970s. And they copied the red-sole motif "from King Louis XIV's red-heeled dancing shoes or Dorothy's famous ruby slippers in 'The Wizard of Oz,'" according to the judge's ruling.
On the bright side, the ruling allowed a federal judge to practice some very creative writing, pay homage to Louboutin's "bold divergence from the worn path" and wax rhapsodic about a shoe style he clearly admires.