Clash of the Titans: how do fashion brands protect their rights?
What girl doesn’t dream of a new pair of shoes (even if she has already bought ten others this season) with the red sole? The Christian Louboutin brand is definitely associated with style, luxury, and a desirable purchase. But did you know that the designer fought in the court for 7 years for the acknowledgment of the red sole?
It all began in 2011 when the equally famous brand Yves Saint Laurent released ballet shoes with a red sole (which is a distinctive feature of Christian Louboutin shoes) in their collection. Of course, Louboutin immediately fell into a rage and filed a lawsuit against the founders of Yves Saint Laurent. And everything would be simple if not for one “but”. As you probably already guessed – Christian Louboutin didn’t copyright the wonderful red soles that made his brand famous. Whether it was forgotten in the race for collections, or he just didn’t find it important, the result was that there is no evidence that these soles were the idea of his brand. Christian Louboutin demanded that all shoes with red soles must be withdrawn from Saint-Laurent boutiques and that competitors must compensate him for a million dollars of moral damage. These claims were based on the fact that his red soles had already appeared in 1992.
The court didn’t make up its mind for a long time, but one patent attorney helped to resolve this dispute. He found out that red-soled shoes were worn by Louis XIV in the seventeenth century. Christian Louboutin’s lawsuit was dismissed. The court recognized the Louboutin red sole as a trademark, but at the same time allowed fashion houses to use red color in the sole design if the shoes are completely the same color. Yves Saint Laurent decided not to stop there and filed a counterclaim against Christian Louboutin to use the trademark. The battle lasted for 7 years, and only in 2018 did Christian Louboutin manage to defend his exclusive right to the red sole in high-heeled shoes. The European Court in Luxembourg took the position of Louboutin’s fashion house. The essence lies in the fact that the brand, which includes the red color of the sole, is not covered by the ban on registration of the shape of the shoe. Thus, the court recognized that the combination of color applied to the sole of the shoes may be a trademark in the EU.
It took as many as 7 years for the designer to prove his primacy of the idea and his right to use it!
Can you imagine how much effort, anxiety, and money could have been saved if Louboutin registered his intellectual property in a timely manner? Oh, Christian, what a pity that I wasn’t there yet. 🙂
The fashion industry is not just about dresses and shoes, which I love more than these scandals. The fashion industry also includes a huge global capital turnover. For example, in New York fashion is the second largest industry after the financial industry. Over 800 fashion companies are based there. The fashion industry employs 175,000 people, it generates about $10 billion in salaries and $1.5 billion in taxes. Experts say that fashion is an industry that demonstrates that copying doesn’t affect the net profit of companies. An industry that doesn’t have a reliable way to determine whether a design of a certain thing is unique enough for it to need protection.
Gucci, Prada, Dior, Miu Miu – these and many other brands have repeatedly been accused of borrowing ideas from colleagues. Copies can be hated, you can lose money because of carelessness or not understanding how to prove the originality of your idea. But there is only one way to protect your intellectual property – register it. And by the way, now Christian Louboutin owns the largest number of patents in the industry. And he came to this after 7 years of litigation. The idea to paint the sole of a failed pair of shoes with red lacquer turned into a worldwide trend. Not only people in the fashion industry face such problems, but also musicians, artists, and other players in the creative industries.
I suggest you register your authorship in a few clicks and fix it on the blockchain now. Your works are worth it, aren’t they? Why wait to recognize them for many years, when it may become too late?