Fashion Law: Yves Saint Laurent v. Christian Louboutin, Round 1 -Who You Calling a Thief?!

“Let sleeping dogs lie.” If you will pick a battle, study your opponent and be sure you know what you are about to get into. Also, never underestimate the opposition and do be over-prepared when you go to legal war. Case in point? Christian Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent. Nice way the fashion and legal worlds collide. So, Louboutin sued i.e. threw the first legal punch. Boy did it sting, really bad. The whole fashion and media world went, “Wow! Did you see that punch? Very bad.” YSL took it and actually fell on the hard concrete fashion ground. While on the ground, YSL tasted its own fashion blood. That taste energized it. Like a skilled fighter and seeming underdog, YSL found the power to stand up again. It declared war and ladies and gentlemen, round 1 of this fight really begins!

What does YSL do? They attack Louboutin on a technicality. They say, “look Louboutin, you want to fight? We will nail you on every thing, every step of the way.” How do they do it?

Round 1- Louboutin, The Application You Filed for Your Trademark Was Fraudulent!

“Yves Saint Laurent have hit back against claims they copied Christian Louboutin’s trademarked red soles, in a $1 million court case which is set to divide the fashion world.

Christian Louboutin, whose luxury, red-soled shoes are worn by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss and Sarah Jessica Parker, started legal proceedings against Yves Saint Laurent America Inc. in April, alleging it was selling shoes with red soles that are “virtually identical” to its own.

But Yves Saint Laurent are not taking the matter lying down.

Court papers filed in New York state: ‘Red outsoles are a commonly used ornamental design feature in footwear, dating as far back as the red shoes worn by King Louis XIV in the 1600s and the ruby red shoes that carried Dorothy home in The Wizard of Oz.’

YSL also allege that Mr Louboutin was fraudulent in his trademark application claim that he had ‘exclusive’ use of the red sole. ‘As an industry leader who has devoted his entire professional life to women’s footwear, Mr Louboutin either knew or should have known about some or all of the dozens of footwear models that rendered his sworn statement false. . .”

One quick thing here before I send you all off to read the full article. Let’s zoom in on the “sworn statement” part.

When you hire an attorney and your lawsuit begins, as the one suing or defending against a suit, you will make representations to the court about the facts in your case. These facts are made under a legal document called “declaration.” The declaration requires that you not only state the facts you claim happened, but that you also, under penalty of perjury of your state laws, confirm that these facts are indeed what you say it is. “Penalty” means you can go to jail if it turns out you lied to the court.

When you file an application for a Trademark, there is an analogous requirement you be truthful that the trademark you are applying for belongs to you. YSL argues Louboutin was not truthful. I could discuss the impact but would rather wait for Round 2 to procure more facts.

That’s it from me people.

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