Shoemaker Christian Louboutin Wins EU Court Battle Over Red Soles

The luxury shoe designer took shoe maker Van Haren to court in 2012 after Van Haren sold similar red-soled shoes.
Image courtesy—Stockland Martel Blog

The EU court has 'confirmed that the legal regime governing shape trademarks does not apply to Christian Louboutin's red sole mark, ' the French company said in a statement.

Christian Louboutin has won its fight to prevent other designers from selling copycat versions of the company's signature red-soled stilettos, CNN reports.

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

The ruling by the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Tuesday said the sole's colour isn't covered by limits on trademark protection for the shapes of products.

Louboutin's lawyers argued, on the contrary, that the trademark consisted of "the color red [Pantone 18-1663 TP] applied to the sole of a shoe", regardless of the shape of the sole. A Dutch district court in The Hague asked the European Court of Justice to rule on the nature of Louboutin's trademark before it settles the matter.


The ECJ said that a trademark, such as Louboutin's, could not be regarded as consisting "exclusively" of a shape, where the main element is a specific colour designated by an internationally recognised identification code. Dutch judges referred the case to the EU's top courts for clarification on the bloc's trademark laws.

Under EU law it was argued companies can not trademark common shapes such as the soles of shoes.

Elaine O'Hare, an intellectual property specialist at the law firm Stevens & Bolton, said: "The ECJ has not followed the recent recommendation of the advocate general and has instead ruled that Louboutin's red soles can in fact be protected as a trademark".

Christian Louboutin COO and GM Alexis Mourot told WWD that today's European Union ruling confirms the registration of the brand for all of Europe.

"The ruling is very short, which is very rare, and it's very clear", he said.

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