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Louboutin Wins Case To Trademark Signature Red-Soled Shoes

Jun 13, 2018
Originally published on June 13, 2018 5:04 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now a story with sole.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOUBOUTINS")

JENNIFER LOPEZ: (Singing) I'm throwing on my Louboutins. I'm throwing on my Louboutins.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BODAK YELLOW")

CARDI B: (Rapping) These expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes.

SHAPIRO: Louboutins - the designer shoe with the red soles.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

They're all over celebrity magazines and pop culture. Carrie Bradshaw had them on when Miranda went into labor in "Sex And The City."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SEX AND THE CITY")

SARAH JESSICA PARKER: (As Carrie Bradshaw) And thus, with a destroyed pair of Christian Louboutins, began Miranda's delivery.

SHAPIRO: There's even a reference to them in the new "Mean Girls" musical on Broadway.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSICAL, "MEAN GIRLS")

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: (As Regina George, singing) I will grind you to sand beneath my Louboutin heel.

CORNISH: And this week, that's what designer Christian Louboutin did in court. He won a legal case protecting those trademark red soles.

SHAPIRO: The European Court of Justice ruled that a Dutch company had infringed on the trademark by selling its own red-soled shoes.

SUSAN SCAFIDI: And the reason why this case had to go all the way to the Court of Justice of the European Union is that there was a question - are those red soles a shape or are they a color?

CORNISH: Because a functional shape like the sole of a shoe can't be trademarked under EU law. Susan Scafidi is a professor at Fordham University and the founder of the Fashion Law Institute. She's been studying this case.

SCAFIDI: It means that no other company can use red soles legitimately because the red soles are not just a cool, decorative element. They are a sign or a signifier of the Louboutin company.

SHAPIRO: In other words, if you see a shoe with a red sole, chances are you'll think of Louboutin.

SCAFIDI: You might not remember the name of the company, but you remember, right, it's that guy with the red soles.

SHAPIRO: The ruling could have broader implications, too.

SCAFIDI: It's relevant to any company that builds trademark identification into its product, like the Burberry plaid.

CORNISH: Scafidi says Louboutin is associated with a lot of things, with celebrity and status and power and confidence. And she speaks from experience.

SCAFIDI: When I wear Louboutin, I know that I am making a statement, and that this is definitely a don't-mess-with-me, I-mean-business kind of a day.

SHAPIRO: Christian Louboutin certainly means business. This was not the first time he sued and won over his red soles. After this latest ruling, his company in a statement said it warmly welcomes this judgment.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOUBOUTINS")

LOPEZ: (Singing) Watch these red bottoms and the back of my jeans. Watch me go bye, babe. Don't know what you got until it's gone. Tail lights is all you'll see. Watch that Benz exit that driveway. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.