Christian Louboutin faces setback in legal battle over red soles


Christian Louboutin’s bid to trademark his red-soled high heels is facing another setback.

The French footwear designer, whose signature heels are coveted by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj, and Jennifer Lopez, has had his soles trademark protected in several countries, but in 2013, he initiated litigation against Dutch company Van Haren over a pair of shoes with red soles sold in The Netherlands.

On Tuesday (06Feb18), an official at the Court of Justice of the European Union stated that Louboutin’s trademark protection on the specific color of red used on the shoes, which was held from 2010 until 2013, may be invalid.

CJEU advocate general Maciej Szpunar advised that the trademark combining color and shape could be declared invalid or refused on the grounds of EU trademark law, especially as shapes are not usually protected.

“(We) express doubts as to whether the colour red can perform the essential function of a trademark, that of identifying its proprietor, when that colour is used out of context, that is to say, separately from the shape of a sole,” Szpunar said, adding that his view did not take into account the value of the shoes or the “attractiveness of the goods flowing from the reputation of the mark or its proprietor”.

Once the CJEU comes to a decision, it will be left to a Dutch court to rule whether or not Louboutin’s red sole can be trademarked.

In 2013, Louboutin filed a trademark infringement claim against Dr. Adams Footwear in Belgium. The Brussels Court of Appeal ruled in his favor, while in February, 2017 Swiss court officials ruled that a trademark on red soles was invalid.

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