After initiating legal action against French luxury house Yves Saint Laurent last week for selling shoes that infringed on his trademarked red soles, the designer has accused another footwear brand — Carmen Steffens of Brazil — of the same offense.
The São Paulo-based brand issued a press release Monday responding to Christian Louboutin’s allegations, made in January, saying it has “since its inception created a logo in red, called ‘rosette,’” and finds it “surprising that another brand is trying to reserve the rights to any color.”
The statement added, “The tones are not the same, and, as catalogs dating from 1996 can prove, Carmen Steffens shoes contain soles of all colors, including red.”
Louboutin was awarded a registered trademark for its red soles in 2008 by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, but the complaint is directed only at Carmen Steffens France and no other markets.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Spaniol, Carmen Steffens’ international development director, said in the statement, “We are ready to provide unassailable evidence that we have been using colored soles, especially red, before Mr. Christian Louboutin popularized his.”
Carmen Steffens, which is sold in more than 160 namesake shops and 450 doors across South America, plans to open 25 stores in France by 2015.
Online research by Footwear News showed that even French magazine Tout Ma compared its shoes to Louboutin’s.
“The very bling-bling shoes, set with crystal or embroidered, are reminiscent of the spirit of Louboutin, especially as they display a red sole. But they are much more affordable (between 200 and 350 euros),” said the magazine article, which Carmen Steffens was touting on its blog, along with images of shoes.
Carmen Steffens’ president of U.S. operations, Mark Willingham, told FN that “Carmen Steffens France is confident in its position regarding the brand’s long-standing use of color on the soles of some styles of Carmen Steffens shoes, including the infrequent use of various tones of red.” He pointed out that “of the 250 styles in Carmen Steffens France’s current collection, only three styles utilize red tones on their soles.”
Christian Louboutin could not be reached for comment.