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Are Valentino’s Rockstud Pumps as Distinctive as Christian Louboutin’s Red Soles?

The saga to trademark Valentino’s Rockstud pump continues — and this time the fashion house has argued that the style has “acquired distinctiveness” much like designer Christian Louboutin’s red soles.

In a 227-page filing to the United States Patent and Trademark Office that was obtained by The Fashion Law, the Italian luxury house claimed that the design of its Rockstud pump functions as protectable trade dress that should be registered.

It argued that the shoe has sold out each year since its 2010 debut, as well as generated more than $152 million in sales for the brand between 2014 and 2019. It has also “been a mainstay on store shelves for over a decade,” plus served as the subject of “extensive third-party press and unsolicited media coverage” after being photographed on “countless celebrities.”

What’s more, Valentino brought up the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s decision in the Christian Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent lawsuit in 2012: Counsel for Valentino said that Louboutin had “demonstrated evidence that the public associated the lacquered red sole of its shoes with Louboutin” based on advertising costs, media coverage, the style’s sales and other evidence. Such evidence “demonstrated both that Louboutin has created a symbol and that the symbol has gained secondary meaning that causes it to be ‘uniquely’ associated with the Louboutin brand,” Valentino said, and the same should hold true for its Rockstud pump.

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The development comes after months of back-and-forth correspondence between Valentino and the USPTO. In February, the agency issued a non-final decision against registering the Rockstud design, or the “three-dimensional configuration of a shoe with a single ankle strap and T-strap and collar, which are adorned with pyramid shaped studs.” Valentino then argued that the style had “acquired distinctiveness,” to which the USPTO said that “consumers will perceive [the design of the studs] only as an ornamental and nondistinctive feature of the goods.”

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