Court: Red Soles Merit Trademark Proetection

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A federal appeals court in New York has ruled the red soles of Christian Louboutin shoes are entitled to trademark protection. The glossy-soled shoes have been seen on movie stars like Sarah Jessica Parker. The ruling bars competitors from using red soles.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today's last word in business is seeing red.

The designer Christian Louboutin is famous in certain circles for his super high heeled shoes. They can cost more than $4,000 and it's the red lacquer soles that Louboutin is really known for.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

So when another haute couture design house, Yves Saint Laurent, announced plans last year to start selling shoes with the same bright red color, including the soles, Louboutin didn't just get mad, he went to court to block his rival from selling red soled shoes.

INSKEEP: But a judge refused to go along, saying you can't trademark a color. Yesterday, an appeals court in New York reversed that decision and handed Louboutin a victory.

MONTAGNE: The three-judge panel said those red shoes are so distinctive that they merit trademark protection. But here's the catch: the trademark protection is limited and extends only to a red sole - that is red soles that contrast with the rest of the shoe color - say beige.

INSKEEP: The ruling means that Yves Saint Laurent can make red soles, but only if the rest of the shoe is red as well.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET'S DANCE")

DAVID BOWIE: (Singing) Let's dance. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues.

INSKEEP: And that's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Renée, hope you got some nice red shoes this morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET'S DANCE")

BOWIE: (Singing) Let's sway. While color lights up your face. Let's sway. Sway through the crowd to an empty space. If you say run, I'll run with you. If you say hide, we'll hide.

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