Amicus Brief

Christian Louboutin S.A. et al. v. Yves Saint Laurent America Holding, Inc. et al.

Published: November 15, 2011


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Our Position

The court should vacate and remand to the district court, which made two legal errors in analyzing the plaintiffs’ federally registered Red Sole Mark. First, the district court misconstrued the mark as consisting solely of “the color red” and failed to recognize the presumption of validity attendant to federal trademark registrations. Second, the district court erred in finding the Red Sole Mark functional.


The Second Circuit’s opinion, consistent with arguments advanced in INTA’s brief, held that the plaintiffs held a valid federal trademark registration for a red lacquered outsole, but the Court modified the registration to limit it to a red sole that contrasts with the color of the adjoining upper. Because the court found no infringement of that more limited mark, it did not reach the question of whether the trademark was nonfunctional, but it did confirm, as advocated by INTA in its brief, that aesthetic functionality may only be found if granting trademark protection to the feature would substantially hinder competition.