This week in fashion law: paint the town Louboutin red, A&F sued for discrimination (again), LiLo ducks "self-tanning mist" suit

Posted by Charles Colman

Welcome back to "this week in fashion law," now running in modified form on under the sexier moniker "Catwalk Justice."  And now, in this week's fashion law news...

New York shoe repair shops may be setting themselves up for a @LouboutinWorld of hurt.  The New York Post has reported that for $32, an Upper East Side cobbler will give any heels brought in the door a “red sole upgrade” – a paint job with a custom blend created to match Christian Louboutin’s signature color.  Apparently, the "upgrade" has proven popular, and shoe repairmen throughout the City are now getting in on the game.  But as in Alice in Wonderland, painting the roses red may draw the ire of those in power.  Recall that Louboutin recently revealed its litigious side in a trademark dispute with Yves Saint Laurent over look-alike red soles.  True, the lawsuit received a decidedly chilly reception among the public, but as far as the law is concerned, it is well established that color alone may function as a trademark in certain instances.  While large corporations often overlook small-scale shenanigans, Louboutin may be spurred to action by the veritable cottage industry of red-heel emulation springing up: apart from the aforementioned sole-painters, you might remember a certain 15-year-old Irish girl who made the fashion blog rounds in May for her “DIY Louboutin” sole stickers.


Thus, contrary to the CFDA’s new campaign, it seems that you can, in fact, fake fashion.  (The question is, what are the consequences of faking it?)  The CFDA, an increasingly successful champion of stronger intellectual property protection for fashion designs, has partnered with eBay in its new “You Can’t Fake Fashion” venture (eBay perhaps motivated by a desire to preemptively PR-away any new costly lawsuits for counterfeit goods sold on its site.)  The CFDA will promote its new tagline on brand-customized tote bags to be sold at Diane Von Furstenberg, Billy Reid, and Tory Burch, among other stores.  Tote bags – hmmm… coincidence or cautionary choice?


Ever wonder who’s legally entitled to the engagement ring when a wedding is called off?  If so, shame on you: you’re cynical and greedy.  But you also have something in common with multimillionaire Roy Williams of the Dallas Cowboys, who has sued his would-be fiancée for the return of a $76,000 ring after she rejected his marriage proposal, delivered by mail.  Yes, by mail.  Hey, NFL players travel a lot… so sue him.


Speaking of football, Abercrombie & Fitch is in trouble (again) for alleged discrimination against employees who don’t fit its “all-American” image.  The chain has been sued by yet another Muslim employee who was fired after refusing to take off her hijab.  The company claims that it complies with all laws requiring reasonable religious accommodations.  FYI, the law governing what employers can and can’t demand of their employees in the clothing department – so to speak – is a thorny little thicket, best navigated with the help of a law firm, like, say, this one.


And while we’re on the subject of law firms, did you know that Lindsay Lohan has four of them working for her on a single case?  Either she has amazing insurance or her financial woes are not as serious as we’ve been led to believe.  In any event, it looks like these hired guns are worth the price.  On Thursday, Lohan wiggled out of litigation in Florida federal court over her self-tanning mist Sevin Nyne, which LiLo claims to have developed with “tanning expert” Lorit Simon.  Plaintiff White Wave, a Florida corporation, begs to differ: the case began when it sued Lohan and Simon on its home turf in 2009 for conspiring to steal its secret tanning formula.  This week’s ruling isn’t a total loss for White Wave: the Florida court only ruled that it lacks personal jurisdiction over Lohan, so the company could theoretically sue her somewhere else.  Sometimes, though, a ruling like this is effectively a win against a plaintiff who doesn’t want to venture too far from home, or doesn’t have the funds or emotional wherewithal to start all over again in a new court.  For LiLo’s sake, let’s hope White Wave drops the matter; the girl’s got enough problems on her mist-tanned hands as it is.


[This post is for entertainment and informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship among any individuals or entities. Any views expressed herein are those of the writer on the particular date of this post, and should not necessarily be attributed to his law firm or its clients.]