May 2019. An interesting trademark application was recently filed in the US: a variant of the controversial registration by fashion brand Christian Louboutin of its iconic red-soled shoe. The new application concerns a dotted-line drawing of an identical shoe, only this time with a green sole. It was filed by Reginald Bendolph LLC.

USPTO validity test

It will be interesting to see how the US Patent and Trademark Office responds. Will the new trademark be waved through in the ‘land of unlimited opportunity’ or will USPTO come up with absolute grounds for refusing it? Or will it be accepted and later stopped for infringing Louboutin’s older trademark rights? Or will Louboutin file an opposition?


The initial response to the application, which is dated 4 February, states that ‘The trademark application has been accepted by the Office (has met the minimum filing requirements) and assigned to an examiner’.

I suspect that what this actually means is that the applicant has filled in the form correctly and paid the registration fees. The actual test of trademark validity still has to follow.

Serious plans

Bendolph’s website clearly shows that far from using the application as a mere test case, the company has serious plans to market its product: the green-soled shoes are in fact already available as both a flat ballet pump and a stiletto heel. Incidentally, they’re also priced rather more sharply than the exorbitant Louboutins: a mere 200 dollars will get you a pair of these ‘green Louboutins’.

Copyright Thierry van Innis?

Copyright Thierry van Innis?

The plot thickens. What’s more, there’s a chance that Belgian lawyer Thierry van Innis could become involved. Jesse Hofhuis, the lawyer who represented Louboutin at the European Court of Justice, has informed me it was Van Innis who came up with the distinctive dotted-line drawing of the Louboutin red-soled shoe. So Van Innis may have an urgent word with Reginald Bendolph’s lawyers at the forthcoming International Trademark Association meeting in Boston concerning the potential infringement of his copyright.

Bas Kist