Thursday, May 09, 2013

When is a Lego shoe not a Lego shoe? : When it does not belong to you.

When the shoe fits wear it but sometimes not all parties agree and many disagreements have ended up as famous court cases with expensive outcomes. A common cause for dispute relates to disagreement over logos or distinctive elements of signature shoes. Christian Louboutin has long prized his red soles but when Yves Saint Laurent produced new red pumps with a red sole Louboutin sued YSL for trademark infringement. A New York federal court held the claim for Louboutin‘s red sole trademark as valid on all shoes, except in the case of for all-over red shoes (like the YSL styles). Christian Louboutin was in another legal battle over red soles when Spanish fast-fashion giant Zara started selling red soled shoes. The French Court of Appeals ruled Louboutin's trademark was too vague and since the footwear designer's trademark registration failed to indicate a specific shade of red Zara could continue to sell arrange of red soled shoes. Further, the court found that there was no proven risk of consumer confusion between the two brands yet despite their emphatic win Zara have not produced many red soled shoes since. Marc Fisher Footwear (Guess' footwear licensee) was accused of copying Gucci's signature "G" logo pattern on a line of their sneakers. After a three-year battle, the court awarded Gucci nearly $5 million dollars and a permanent injunction against Guess' use of several of the trademarks. In another dispute Alexander McQueen took Steven Madden, Ltd. to court, alleging the Madden's Seryna bootie was a "studied imitation" of McQueen's Faithful bootie. The two companies ended up settling the lawsuit out of court. Balenciaga also took Steven Madden, Ltd., to a court over their Lego shoe. The former claimed Madden "intentionally copied" their $4,175 shoe and sold it for about $100. After two years in court Madden paid Balenciaga an "undisclosed amount." Charles Philip Shanghai sued the Gap for trademark and patent infringement after the retailer sold lookalike slippers under the name the Phillip slipper. The footwear had a striped design on the inside of its shoes. The Charles Philip brand accused the Gap of unfair competition. The Gap quickly changed the name of their flats and pulled them from its website. Parties can also fall out over product endorsement. New Girl star Zooey Deschanel filed a lawsuit in December 2010 against, Steve Madden. The actress claimed a deal for $2 million was made with footwear brand Candie's (owned by Steve Madden Ltd.) to produce shoes with her name prominently displayed. After the shoes were made and sold and no money was paid Deschanel sued for breach of contract and for infringement of her publicity rights. On the eve of the trial, Deschanel's lawyers dismissed the case and many believe an out of court settlement was reached. Deceptive advertising is another reason for ending up in court. Skechers, makers of Shape-Ups, Tone-Ups, and the Skechers Resistance Runner shoes claimed their footwear brought health benefits in a national advertising campaign. However these claims were contested in a lawsuit filed by 44 states. The District of Columbia, and the Federal Trade Commission, alleged Skechers falsely claimed that their shoes provided weight loss and muscle-strengthening benefits. Sketchers settled the suit for upwards of $40 million and has given partial refunds to consumers who purchased Shape-Ups, Tone-Ups, or the Skechers Resistance Runner shoes.

Reference The 10 Most Infamous Footwear Lawsuits in High-Heeled History

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