California - Upscale footwear designer Christian Louboutin is back in federal court again, defending the well-known trade dress for red-soled shoes. This time, Louboutin claims the infringer is Huntington Beach, California-based brand Charles Jourdan Fashion Footwear LLC, as well as other unnamed companies and individuals.
The lawsuit, brought in New York federal court on June 4, alleges that Charles Jourdan knowingly manufactured and supplied counterfeit versions of Louboutin shoes to retailers in New York. Among those named is DSW, or Designer Shoe Warehouse, a large discount store for shoes and handbags. The complaint alleges that these knockoff shoes were featured for sale on DSW's website and at stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The shoes in question bore the red, lacquered outer sole that Louboutin successfully trademarked in 2008.
The complaint was filed by Christian Louboutin personally, as well as his French-based company, Christian Louboutin, S.A.S, and Christian Louboutin LLC, the exclusive American distributor of the luxury shoes. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and damages up to $2 million for each trademark infringement.
The luxury heel brand has aggressively defended its red-sole trademark from infringement, with numerous costly cases against its competitors. Defense of the trademark has been contentious for years, most notably in its lawsuit in 2012 against Yves Saint Laurent S.A.S for production of a completely red shoe. The case went all the way to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the all-red Yves Saint Laurent shoe did not violate Louboutin's trademark. The judge in the case did ordered the U.S Patent and Trademark Office to narrow the parameters of the trademark to include protection only if the red sole contrasts with the color of the upper part of the shoe.
Louboutin shoes are sold nationwide at luxury retailers and Louboutin boutiques, costing between $495 and $6,395 per pair. The distinctive red sole has helped the company achieve iconic status. Louboutin heels are worn frequently by celebrities on red carpets and were featured prominently on the television show "Sex and the City."