Color Trademarks Remain in Fashion: Second Circuit Sides with Louboutin
Earlier today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its long-awaited decision in Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent America Holding, Inc.. The Appellate Court decision reversed the lower court’s finding that a single color can never serve as a trademark for fashion. It also found that Louboutin’s red, lacquered shoe outsole had acquired distinctiveness and is protectable as a trademark. However, the Court went on to state that the trademark is “limited to uses where the red outsole contrasts with the color of the remainder of the shoe.” The case has now been remanded to the District Court for further proceedings.
This decision is particularly significant to the fashion industry, since it rejects the District Court’s finding that color is per se functional as applied to fashion, and therefore may never be protected as a trademark in that context.