Christian Louboutin’s (CL) red sole is visible on the feet of most women. You can spot them a mile away, which adds to their allure. Red according to CL is the colour of love. This colour he has been trying to protect for a while now in the case: CL v YSL, where the two luxury giants are fighting over whether a colour can be trademarked. YSL is of the view that CL’s trademark is not valid and colour in fashion should not be reserved for one person’s use. Of course, CL is of the opposite view. We are still awaiting the outcome of this case.
As if it hasn’t been a bad enough year, new verdict from a French court adds insult to the injury. CL sued Zara for allegedly copying its Yo-Yo slingback. The Zara version of the shoe also has a red sole. Zara is of the view that no confusion would be created in the market place, because CL’s Yo-Yo shoe sells for around £395, while its version goes for a mere £40. Obviously, they are targeting two different customers. The French Cour de Cessation held that Zara’s cheaper version would not cause confusion in the market place, and sentenced CL to pay Zara £2,000 as compensation.
This new verdict is a major blow for CL, because France provides one of the highest protections against counterfeit and knock-offs. In fact, they recently embarked on a campaign against counterfeit goods.
France understands the importance of intellectual property in fashion. The fact that France did not agree with CL is very telling. Perhaps, the time has come for CL to accept defeat in this arena. One thing the court pointed out that is very important, is that the target customers for CL and Zara are different. I wonder therefore if the outcome would have been different if Zara was also a luxury brand targeting high-end customers. Would there be a confusion then? To me it appears so.
What do you think?