Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Business | By Kate Woods

Designer Louboutin wins legal fight to prevent red sole copycats

Designer Louboutin wins legal fight to prevent red sole copycats

The case will go back to a court in The Hague, which had sought the European Union tribunal's advice in a dispute between the French fashion designer and a Dutch retail shoe shop that started selling red-soled women's shoes, arguing that Louboutin should never have gotten a trademark protection in the first place.

Christian Louboutin first designed his trademark shoe in 1993, using an assistant's red nail polish.

The battle was one by the designer and he seemed overwhelmed and thankful.

The court said that it did not matter that its shoes were different in shape.

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Louboutin took Dutch shoe maker Van Haren to court in the Netherlands in 2012 after Van Haren sold similar shoes, with the Parisian designer insisting he had already registered the style in Europe.

A Dutch court had asked the ECJ if the prohibition on the registration of shapes as trademarks also applied to shapes combining three-dimensional properties of a product and other characteristics such as colours.

Under EU law, shapes can not be registered as trademarks and Van Haren argued that the soles of shoes are therefore not trademarked.

The ECJ's advocate general, who provides legal advice to the court, had found against Louboutin, but the judges rejected this advice.

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After today's ruling, the case has been referred to the District Court of the Hague.

"For 26 years, the red sole has enabled the public to attribute the origin of the shoe to its creator, Christian Louboutin", the brand said in a statement.

The luxury brand said it "warmly welcomes" the judgement.

While Louboutin has been victorious in trademark litigation in the USA - the designer successfully sued YSL in 2012 for trademark infringement - the brand has seen mixed rulings in other regions. "This decision is beyond appeal".

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