Christian Louboutin wins legal battle over red soles


Christian Louboutin has won a court battle in its bid to trademark red-soled high heels.

The French luxury footwear brand, founded by designer Christian Louboutin in 1991, is known for manufacturing stilettos with red lacquered soles, nicknamed ‘bloody shoes’ by rapper Cardi B, with the designs often sported at Hollywood events by the likes of Kim Kardashian, Blake Lively, Dita Von Teese and Nicki Minaj.

In the past few years, Louboutin’s signature red soles have been at the centre of various disputes but the company has just won a major victory, as European Court of Justice (ECJ) judges have ruled that shape trademarks do not apply to Louboutin’s red sole.

“The mark does not relate to a specific shape of sole for high-heeled shoes since the description of that mark explicitly states that the contour of the shoe does not form part of the mark and is intended purely to show the positioning of the red colour covered by the registration,” ECJ officials said in a statement on Tuesday (12Jun18).

In 2013, Louboutin initiated litigation against Van Haren for selling a red-soled shoe, though lawyers for the Dutch company argued that under EU law, companies cannot trademark common shapes of products, such as shoes, and alleged that Louboutin, therefore, didn’t have trademark protection.

The decision of ECJ judges on Monday differed from advice delivered in February by an advocate general who suggested that the trademark combining colour and shape could be declared invalid or refused on the grounds of EU trademark law, especially as shapes are not usually protected.

Regarding the latest ruling, a Louboutin representative said that they “warmly” welcomed the decision.

“The protection of Christian Louboutin’s red sole trademark is strengthened by the European Court of Justice,” they said in a statement issued to Reuters. “The red colour applied on the sole of a woman’s high heel shoe is a position mark, as Maison Christian Louboutin has maintained for many years.”