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2nd Circ. Ensures Color’s Place As Fashion Trademark

September 05, 2012

Jed Wakefield, chair of the Trademark Litigation Group, was quoted in a Law360 article titled “2nd Circ. Ensures Color’s Place As Fashion Trademark.”

The article reports that the Second Circuit reversed a lower court’s ruling that Christian Louboutin’s trademark on its famous red-soled shoes was invalid. The court ruled that because the red soles have become synonymous with Louboutin’s shoes and are a distinctive symbol of the brand, they are a valid and protectable mark; this, however, only applies when the red sole is in contrast to the rest of the shoe, meaning YSL’s all-red shoes do not violate the trademark.

Although the ruling keeps color’s trademark-ready status in the fashion industry intact, it makes clear that the scope of protection is limited, Wakefield said. He noted that, according to the court, color can be used as a mark only “in a context that seems unusual” – such as a brightly-colored shoe sole.

“I don’t think the decision can be read to mean the fashion world can register any random color as a trademark,” Wakefield continued.