Louboutin loses case to stop Zara selling red-soled shoes
Designer had sued High Street chain for copying his heels
French court rules customers will not be confused between designer version and cut-price pair and orders Louboutin to pay compensation
09:50 GMT, 12 June 2012
Flash of red: Victoria Beckham in a pair of red-soled Louboutins in Hong Kong
The distinctive scarlet soles have become an instantly recognisable marker of the brand, a stamp of taste and quality.
But Christian Louboutin’s red-bottomed
shoes could face competition from high street lookalikes after a court
ruled fashion chain Zara could sell heels in the same colour.
Louboutin initially sued the Spanish
brand in 2008, claiming that an open- toed red-soled shoe it was selling
for 40 was similar to its Yo Yo style.
However a French court ruled that Zara’s cut-price shoe could not be confused with that made by the high-end designer.
And last week the Cour de Cassation – the final court of appeal – upheld the decision.
It also ruled that Louboutin, whose
shoes are favoured by celebrities including Victoria Beckham and Sarah
Jessica Parker and cost hundreds of pounds a pair, must pay the chain
2,000 in compensation.
Alexis Mourot, group chief operating
officer and general manager of Christian Louboutin, said the company
would continue defending its soles.
In 2008, Louboutin registered a
trademark, claiming the exclusive right to make shoes with red soles for
‘women’s high fashion designer footwear’.
And last year the shoemaker accused
designer Yves Saint Laurent of copying his celebrated red-soled
footwear, when he used a similar theme in his 2011 resort collection.
That lawsuit resulted in a high-court appeal case in the US, the verdict of which is yet to be decided.
Earlier this year, Louboutin told
French newspaper Libration why the cause is important to him and his
brand identity and that he is aware he cannot 'monopolise' a colour.
Victory: Zara have won the right to sell their red-soled heels, left, which Louboutin said copied their Yo Yo slingbacks, right
Seeing red: Designer Christian Louboutin says he should own the trademark for red-sole shoes because he invented them
He said: 'I understand that, but it is a red in
a specific context, there is Ferrari red [and] Herms
'Even in the food
industry, Cadbury recently won a lawsuit against Nestl for using purple
'All this proves that the colours play a part in a brand's
identity. I'm not saying that red usually belongs to me – I repeat that
this is about a precise red, used in a precise location.'
Celebrity favourites: Amanda Holden, left, in Louboutin slingbacks and actress Hayden Panettiere flashes the famous red sole
Louboutin said that he came up with the idea for his red sole heels, which are favoured by celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker and Victoria Beckham, nearly 20 years ago, when he
painted red nail polish on the black soles of a pair of women's shoes.
His lawsuit against YSL reads: 'Mr Louboutin is the first designer to
develop the idea of having red soles on women's shoes.
'The location of
the bright colour on the outsole of a woman’s pump is said to provide an
alluring 'flash of red' when a woman walks down the street, or on the
red carpet of a special event.'
A spokesman for Zara declined to comment.