The 6 biggest footwear lawsuits in history

06 May 2016

Image

1. Christian Louboutin vs. Saint Laurent
In 2011 Louboutin sued Saint Laurent for using red soles on the bottom of their red pumps. Louboutin asked Saint Laurent for $1 million in damages, based on trademark infringement claims. In the end there wasn't a loser in this trial. The court ruled that Louboutin had the right to trademark protection over red soles and that other brands, including YSL, may sell shoes with a red sole as long as the enitire shoe is red. 

Image

2. Alexander McQueen vs. Steven Madden
In 2009, Alexander McQueen claimed that Steven Madden's Seryna bootie was a "studied imitation" of their Faithful bootie and started a lawsuit against the footwear giant. They initiated the lawsuit after McQueen's lawyers sent Madden a cease and desist letter requesting that the company stop making and selling the shoe, but Steve Madden refused to oblige. They ended up settling the lawsuit out of court. Steve Madden admitted the shoes looked alike, but that he is influenced by everything that goes on, including the millons of shoes that he sees. 

Image

3. Balenicaga vs. Steven Madden
Shortly after the lawsuit with Alexander McQueen, Steve Madden seemed to play the copycat again. Balenciaga started a similar lawsuit, this time about the Lego shoe from Balenciaga's Fall 2007 collection, which got popular after Beyoncé wore them to the American Music Awards. Balenciaga's lawyers claimed that Madden "intentionally copied" the $4,175 shoe and sold it for about $100. Almost two years later, the two brands setteld with Steve Madden paying an undisclosed amount. 

Image

4. Gucci vs. Guess
In 2009 Gucci filed a trademark infringement suit against Guess in both New York and Italian courts over a diamond patterned “G” logo used on shoes. The lawsuit in New York was resolved in 2012, in favor of Gucci and Guess was forced to award Gucci $4.7 million in damages, but this was later decreased to $456,183. The amount was relatively small compared to the $221 million Gucci had originally asked for. In the Italian court Guess hit back, when they managed to cancel some of Gucci's registrated trademarks, the Gucci diamond pattern G logo and Flora pattern. This was a huge loss for Gucci, as other brands, including non-luxury brand could now use the "G" logo in any of the cancelled patterns.
 

Image

5. Christian Louboutin vs. Zara
A year after Louboutin started a lawsuit against Saint Laurent they started a similar one against Zara, this time not in New York but in France. It didn't end well for Louboutin. The French Court stated that Louboutin's trademark was too vague since the footwear designer's trademark registration failed to indicate a specific shade of red. Furthermore the court proved that there was no proven risk of constumer confusion between the two brands and their shoes. 

Image

6. Gap vs. Charles Philip Shanghai 
Charles Philip Shanghai started a lawsuit against Gap after the company began to sell look-a-like slippers that even carried the name: the Philip slipper. They accused Gap of trademark and patent infringement and unfair competition. A spokesman for the Charles Philip brand said they were not necessarily worried about competition, but were afraid that consumers would think that this was collaboration between the two brands. After the lawsuit Gap changed the name of the flats and pulled them from its website.