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Christian Louboutin

Christian Louboutin may be the world’s “biggest star in high-fashion shoe design,” but an American judge has ruled he went a step too far, said The Economist. Earlier this year Louboutin went to court to stop fashion house Yves Saint Laurent from selling shoes with a red sole, a feature Louboutin trademarked in 2008. But last month a district court judge in New York denied Louboutin the injunction he was seeking, claiming that his trying to trademark a color was like “Picasso taking Monet to court over the use of blue in his painting of water lilies.” That’s very bad news for Louboutin, whose company sells 240,000 pairs of red-soled heels (priced from $395 to as much as $6,000 a pair) annually and is expected to rake in $135 million this year.

Louboutin has appealed the judge’s ruling, delaying a larger decision on whether his trademark will be vacated entirely. But it’s clear to see what’s on the line for the French designer, said Alexandra Steigrad in Women’s Wear Daily. “Louboutin’s nightmare is that every fast-fashion retailer will begin stirring up vats of red dye,” says Susan Scafidi, director of Fordham University’s Fashion Law Institute. “Louboutin stands to lose so much. Those red soles are almost as recognizable as his name.”

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