Red soles on shoes can be a trademark says appellate court

French shoemaker Christian Louboutin SA sued Yves St. Laurent last year to keep it from stepping on its trademarked red-soled shoes, long identified with the Louboutin brand. A lower court found that the color could likely not qualify as a trademark, but The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled differently, finding that Louboutin had a right to trademark protection for the red soles.

The decision evoked a mixed response from Louboutin, as the court found it was the red sole, as distinguishable from the rest of the shoe, that created the brand recognition. This means the monochromatic red shoes from Yves St. Laurent that evoked the lawsuit are deemed not to infringe as the shoes are all red (thus the term “monochromatic”), and the color of the sole does not stand out from the whole.