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Louboutin loses EU trademark in red sole court case

Christian Louboutin has lost a landmark case in the European Union’s highest court against others using his signature red-soled shoe design.

The case saw Louboutin file a case against Dutch high street shoe company Van Haren, which in 2013 sold high-heeled shoes with a red sole, a design attributed to Louboutin.

The EU court’s Advocate General Maciej Szpunar sided with the defendant in a trademark suit Louboutin originally filed in 2012. At that time, the designer was victorious when Van Haren was forced to cease production of the shoes in question when the Brussels Court of Appeal ruled in favor of an injunction by Louboutin, finding that the red soles represented a distinctive marker for consumers.

Van Haren, which argued that the trademark in question is invalid, seemed to now have the upper hand, with Szpunar ruling that a trademark combining color and shape — such as Louboutin’s red-soled pumps — could be refused or declared invalid on the grounds of EU trademark law and sent the case back to Dutch courts for consideration.

While Louboutin has been victorious in trademark litigation in the U.S. — the designer successfully sued YSL in 2012 for trademark infringement — the brand has seen mixed rulings in other regions.

In February 2017, Swiss courts turned down a final appeal by the luxury label to trademark its red-soled heels there, finding that the red soles are merely an aesthetic element. The courts further noted that the fact that the brand has won the battle for trademark status in other markets including China, Australia and Russia did not mean the shoes should enjoy the same status in Switzerland.

In December, Louboutin was awarded 150,000 US dollars in damages and a permanent injunction against two shoe dealers — Kamal Family Footwear and Adra Steps — for infringing on the trademark in India.

Photo credit Christian Louboutin website; source Footwear news