In light of the Louboutin v. Yves St. Laurent ruling, in which held a New York federal court held that Louboutin has valid trademark rights that extend to the red sole on his shoes (as long as the body of the shoes themselves are not red), legal experts are predicting that trademark law is set to become increasingly more complex. In particular, Forbes contributor John Villasenor, suggests that websites will test not only the limits of trademark law but will also shed light on the overlap between trademark and copyright as the formatting and use of color on websites is protected by copyright, whereas a company’s name and logo on a website are protected by trademark. Yet to be answered is to what extent to use of color on a website is protected by trademark law, but this will likely be discussed by courts in the not too distant future.
The legal buffs among us and those that have been following the Louboutin case know that color alone may meet the requirements for trademark protection. A quick refresher: a trademark includes any word, name, symbol, etc. that is used to indicate the source of the goods/services and distinguish the goods/services of one seller from those of others. While trademark law is codified in the U.S. code in the Lanham Act, one of the biggest standards in regards to color comes from case law. In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled in the Qualitex v. Jacobson that "registration of a trademark that consists, purely and simply, of a color" is permissible.