updated 20 Oct 2012, 00:42
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YSL draws line under Louboutin red-sole shoe feud

NEW YORK - French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent drew a line Tuesday under its legal battle with Parisian footwear designer Christian Louboutin and his iconic red-soled shoes.

In a statement, it said it was "taking steps to close the book" on the trademark dispute by asking the US District Court in New York to dismiss its outstanding counterclaims against Louboutin.

"Yves Saint Laurent has decided to end what was left of the litigation and refocus its energies on its business and its creative designs," said the company, a unit of France's PPR luxury goods conglomerate.

Louboutin is famous in high-fashion circles not only for dizzying high-heel pumps, but also for their bright red lacquer soles that make them instantly recognizable.

When Yves Saint Laurent came out with a so-called "monochromatic shoe" that was entirely red from the leather uppers to the outer sole, Louboutin went to court, arguing that red soles were his trademark.

In a September 5 ruling, the US Court of Appeals agreed up to a point, saying red soles were "entitled to trademark protection" - so long as the rest of the shoe was another colour, such as black or beige.

Shoes created entirely in one colour, like the Yves Saint Laurent model at the heart of the dispute, were allowed, the court said.

"The Court of Appeals' ruling makes clear that the monochromatic shoes that were challenged in the lawsuit do not infringe any of Louboutin's trademark rights," said Yves Saint Laurent in its statement.

It also "guarantees that Yves Saint Laurent can continue to make monochromatic shoes in a wide variety of colors, including red."

Ironically, an all-red Louboutin studded patent leather pump was named Monday as the sexiest shoe of 2012, based on the results of an online poll by Footwear News and the Saks Fifth Avenue department store.

Louboutin has marketed shoes with red soles since 1992. He registered the look as a trademark in the United States in 2008.

His footwear sells about 240,000 pairs each year in the United States alone, with revenues of about US$135 million (S$165 million).

A pair typically costs between US$700 and US$1000, but can sell for far more, with the Lady Peep Geek Embroidered Pump listed at US$1,695 at the Neiman Marcus department store.

On its online store Tuesday, Yves Saint Laurent had no shoes in colors other than black, white or gold lame.

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