"The color(s) red is/are claimed as a feature of the mark. The mark consists of a lacquered red sole on footwear. The dotted lines are not part of the mark but are intended only to show placement of the mark."
"Louboutin‟s claim would cast a red cloud over the whole industry, cramping what other designers could do, while allowing Louboutin to paint with a full palette."
"The narrow question presented here is whether the Lanham Act extends protection to a trademark composed of a single color used as an expressive and defining quality of an article of wear produced in the fashion industry. In other words, the Court must decide whether there is something unique about the fashion world that militates against extending trademark protection to a single color, although such registrations have sometimes been upheld in other industries.To answer this question, and recognizing the fanciful business from which this lawsuit arises, the Court begins with a fanciful hypothetical. Suppose that Monet (picture, right), having just painted his water lilies, encounters a legal challenge from Picasso, who seeks by injunction to bar display or sale of those works. In his complaint, Picasso alleges that Monet, in depicting the color of water, used a distinctive indigo that Picasso claims was the same or too close to the exquisite shade that Picasso declares is “the color of melancholy,” the hallmark of his Blue Period, and is the one Picasso applied in his images of water in paintings of that collection. By virtue of his longstanding prior use of that unique tinge of blue in context, affirmed by its registration by the trademark office, Picasso asserts exclusive ownership of the specific tone to portray that color of water in canvas painting.
Should a court grant Picasso relief?"
"strive to please patrons and markets by creating objects that not only serve a commercial purpose
but also possess ornamental beauty."
"No one would argue that a painter should be barred from employing a color intended to convey a basic concept because another painter, while using that shade as an expressive feature of a similar work, also staked out a claim to it as a trademark in that context. If as a principle this proposition holds as applied to high art, it should extend with equal force to high fashion. The law should not countenance restraints that would interfere with creativity and stifle competition by one designer, while granting another a monopoly invested with the right to exclude use of an ornamental or functional medium necessary for freest and most productive artistic expression by all engaged in the same enterprise."
"Louboutin's claim to 'the color red' is, without some limitation, overly broad and inconsistent with the scheme of trade mark registration established by the Lanham Act. Awarding one participant in the designer shoe market a monopoly on the color red would impermissibly hinder competition among other participants. YSL has various reasons for seeking to use red on its outsoles -- for example, to reference traditional Chinese lacquer ware, to create a monochromatic shoe, and to create a cohesive look consisting of color-coordinating shoes and garments.
Presumably, if Louboutin were to succeed on its claim of trademark infringement, YSL and other designers would be prohibited from achieving those stylistic goals. In this respect, Louboutin's ownership claim to a red outsole would hinder competition not only in high fashion shoes, but potentially in the markets for other women‟s wear articles as well. Designers of dresses, coats, bags, hats and gloves who may conceive a red shade for those articles with matching monochromatic shoes would face the shadow or reality of litigation in choosing bands of red to give expression to their ideas.
The effects of this specter -- the uncertainty and apprehension it generates -- are especially acute in the fashion industry because of its grounding on the creative elements discussed above. "
"This was a trademark that never should've been issued...YSL has been using red since the 1970s, other designers have used red on the soles of their shoes. They aren't doing so to confuse people, but because it is a design aesthetic."
"This [verdict] is an abomination. Tell your client to appeal."
Judge Marrero's decision on the color red here