Contrasting Levi v. Abercrombie with Louboutin v. Yves St. Laurent: Revealing Appropriate Trademark Boundaries in the Fashion World

June 3, 2012

Two recent trademark cases illustrate the best and worst of trademark law for the fashion industry. In Levi v. Abercrombie, the Ninth Circuit joined the Second Circuit in allowing a trademark dilution claim to stand where the junior mark was significantly different from the senior mark. This holding promotes an overwhelming advantage for designers who hold famous trademarks and a stunning disadvantage for new up-and coming designers. The Levi precedent favors the established designer over the newer competitor, ultimately harming creativity, competition, and the consumer’s checkbook. However, a refreshing boundary in trademark law for the fashion world was established in Louboutin v. Yves St. Laurent. There, the court doubted the validity of the federal trademark registration that was unfairly impeding other designers. This court kept the freedom of competition less inhibited within the fashion industry, creating a winning situation for consumers and designers alike.