Morning Coffee Jul 26 2011

Stiletto Makers See Red

By chris prentice

Who knew the sole of a shoe could cause such a ruckus?

When that sole speaks to a brand's soul, then it is worth fighting for, Christian Louboutin SA says. In a hearing that began Friday in Manhattan federal court, the luxury shoemaker said that rival Yves Saint Laurent America Inc. violated its trademark by selling red-soled shoes.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Louboutin a trademark for the red sole in 2008, according to the complaint. In response, the lawyer for Yves Saint Laurent said that the company has been using red as a signature color since it was founded in 1962. In the 2010-2011 season, Yves Saint Laurent sold 1,631 pairs of red-soled shoes, according to the filing.

The red sole, however, is Louboutin's "lifeblood," according to its lawyer. The company's shoes sell for anywhere from $319 to $4,645 a pair, and sales are projected to be $135 million this year. Many consumers may agree that the flash of red says "Louboutin" as definitively as the brand name itself.

The judge has yet to rule on the case. But the lesson for marketers may be in before the verdict. Sellers need to create a unique proposition for consumers, especially for a product as common as shoes. Otherwise, brand battles -- and unfortunate puns -- may follow. (Bloomberg)

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List of the Day: How to Handle a Bad Day

1. Don't talk to anyone while upset, to avoid snapping at coworkers.

2. Take a deep breath and start over.

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4. Once you've calmed down, talk it out.

(Source: Glassdoor)

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