It is every girl’s dream to own a pair of Louboutin’s. However over recent months, for eminent shoe designer Christian Louboutin, the instantly recognisable design has been the subject of his worst nightmares.
The iconic shoe design features a shiny red sole, which has grown to become the brand’s signature. Christian Louboutin created his first pair back in 1993 after he painted the soles with red nail varnish and, since then, the brand has retained a vast celebrity following and continued to grow from strength to strength.
This week, Christian Louboutin won a legal case against a Dutch company, Van Haren, to protect his trademark red soles. The European Court of Justice ruled that Van Haren had infringed on the trademark by selling its own red-soled shoes.
The designer originally registered the red soles as a trademark in 2010, and later in 2013 for high heeled shoes. However, this case was recently progressed to the ECJ due to the complexities and arguments surrounding the nature of the mark.
The legal battle centred around whether the red sole amounted to a shape trademark, or whether it was the positioning that was protected. Van Haren argued that the mark related to a colour applied to the sole of a high heeled shoe and therefore was a shape. However, throughout proceedings Christian Louboutin maintained that it was the positioning of the mark which was protected.
In previous rulings, the Advocate General had said the red soles could not be protected as it relates to a shape, and therefore is not capable of registration under EU law. However, failing to follow the opinion of the Advocate General in its ruling, the ECJ held that the mark did not relate to a specific shape of the high heeled shoe and was therefore not subject to the legal framework surrounding shape trademarks. Instead, it held that it was intended to protect position and colour of the mark.
This case will now be referred back to The Hague Court, which will deliver a final ruling on this matter based on the ECJ decision.
Christian Louboutin will welcome this decision, after facing many difficulties in the past regarding his red-soled shoes. The decision is likely to set a precedent for all luxury goods brands across Europe and provide comfort to those brands that rely on particular patterns or colours to identify their products. It is hoped that this will also encourage other brands to consider registering their brands trademark, including colours.
So if you have put your heart and ‘sole’ into growing your brand, you should consider registering this as a trademark before someone else does.
If you would like to discuss your brand and potential trademark registration, please contact Abbie Anthony email@example.com