Designers go toe-to-toe over high heeled shoes with red soles

NEW YORK Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:15am IST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lawyers for Paris-based designer Christian Louboutin asked a judge on Friday to issue a preliminary injunction barring Yves Saint Laurent from producing high heeled shoes with red soles.

Louboutin, whose pumps have graced many fabulous and famous feet, sued fashion rival Yves Saint Laurent in April in Manhattan federal court over what he claims is his signature use of lacquered red on shoe soles.

In the first hearing in the case, Louboutin lawyer Harley Lewin on Friday brandished a shoe with a precipitously steep heel as he spoke to U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero.

"The bright red lacquered outsole of Christian Louboutin is one of the true sparkling moments of at least 2000 to 2011," Lewin told the judge.

"This is a genuine Louboutin, your honor, with its sparkling red sole."

Louboutin in the lawsuit argued that Yves Saint Laurent's use of red soles would confuse consumers and harm the Louboutin brand.

Yves Saint Laurent's lawyer, David Bernstein, told the judge that red soles were used by his company for decades, caused no harm to Louboutin and, while not brand defining, were essential as a design element.

"We have been using relatively similar shades of red for years," Bernstein said. "The preliminary injunction should be denied."

Judge Marrero, at times amused at the dozens of shoes lawyers from both sides lugged into the courtroom, did not immediately rule on the injunction.

Since shortly after Louboutin founded his first boutique in 1991 in Paris, the original lawsuit said, all his shoes have had red-lacquered soles. They can fetch more than $1,000 a pair.

(Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

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