World Footwear


Louboutin wins EU court battle to trademark red soles

Jun 13, 2018 France
Louboutin wins EU court battle to trademark red soles
The European Court of Justice ruling grants protection to the world-famous red soles by the French-based designer
Shoe designer Christian Louboutin has won the court battle to protect the renown red soles the brand is famous for, thanks to the European Court of Justice ruling of Tuesday.

The trial first started in 2012, when the French designer took Dutch designer Van Haren to court in the Netherlands for selling similar high-heeled red-soled shoes. The case then reached the EU’s highest Court.

Louboutin claimed having registered the trademark for the red soles in 2010, and in 2013 for high heels specifically. Originally, the EU Advocate General’s ruling stated that the red soles could not be trademarked as they were related to a shape, an element which cannot be protected under European trademark law. However, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on Tuesday reversed this opinion, granting trademark protection to the red soles, since they consist of a colour, in addition to a shape.

Louboutin had been seeking the protection of the application of a colour to a specific part of the shape of the shoe for a long time, as the famous red colour of the sole is seen as nothing else than a position mark for the brand. Finally, he got it.

In a statement, the ECJ said: “The mark does not relate to a specific shape of sole for high-heeled shoes since the description of that mark explicitly states that the contour of the shoe does not form part of the mark and is intended purely to show the positioning of the red colour covered by the registration.”

Louboutin rejoiced with the decision: "For 26 years, the red sole has enabled the public to attribute the origin of the shoe to its creator, Christian Louboutin".

Besides Louboutin, this ruling was warmly received by the whole fashion and luxury industry, as it paves the way for other brands, especially those that rely on certain colour schemes or patterns as a distinctive sign, to ask for certain colours or colour positioning to be trademarked.

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