Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent America Inc., No. 11-3303 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Christian Louboutin, a fashion designer best known for his use of red lacquer on the outsole of the shoes he designs, appealed the district court's order denying a motion for preliminary injunction against alleged trademark infringement by Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). The court concluded that the district court's conclusion that a single color could never serve as a trademark in the fashion industry was inconsistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Products Co., and that the district court therefore erred by resting its denial of Louboutin's preliminary injunction motion on that ground. The court further concluded that Louboutin's trademark, consisting of a red, lacquered outsole on a high fashion woman's shoe, has acquired limited "secondary meaning" as a distinctive symbol that identified the Louboutin brand. Pursuant to Section 37 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1119, the court limited the trademark to uses in which the red outsole contrasted with the color of the remainder of the shoe. Because Louboutin sought to enjoin YSL from using a red sole as part of a monochrome red shoe, the court affirmed in part the order of the district court insofar as it declined to enjoin the use of the red lacquered outsoles in all situations. However, the court reversed in part the order of the district court insofar as it purported to deny trademark protection to Louboutin's use of contrasting red lacquered outsoles.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on March 8, 2013.