The verdict has been read: Louboutin keeps its red
It is the heart and sole of his brand
Shoemaker to the stars Christian Louboutin has won his latest court battle to protect the trademark of his signature red-soled high heels, which are favoured by the likes of Meghan Markle, Kate Winslet and Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw.
The fictional lovelorn journalist was famously addicted to her expensive footwear in the hit show. After unlucky-in-love Carrie dumped her Manolo Blahniks for Louboutins, the French shoe became a must-have for those who could afford them. The Duchess of Sussex is also reported to be a fan of the shoes, which can retail for thousands of rands per pair.
Louboutin shoes, which are more often spotted on the red carpets of Hollywood and the catwalks of Paris, were the centre of attention at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Tuesday.The French designer went to court in The Netherlands to prevent the Dutch high street chain Van Haren from selling its own versions of high-heeled shoes with red soles. The case found its way to the EU’s top court after Dutch judges asked for a clarification on EU law.
The dispute centred on whether Louboutin’s trademark involved a shape or colour. Van Haren, whose shoes are far more affordable, argued shapes cannot be registered as trademarks. Louboutin, founded in 1991, argued that the use of a colour in a certain position – in this case a red pigment called Pantone 18 1663TP – can be.
The designer was quick to put “le boot in” to his rivals after they had been brought to heel by EU judges, hailing the decision as a “victory for the Maison Christian Louboutin”.“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,” the company said.
The court in The Hague will deliver the final ruling on the matter based on the ECJ decision, which experts said could stop the market being flooded with cheap knock-offs.
“This ruling should allow Louboutin to assert the red sole mark with confidence against counterfeiters and other infringers since the court has in effect endorsed Louboutin’s monopoly over red soles on high heeled shoes,” said Elaine O'Hare, senior associate at Stevens & Bolton.In 2012, a New York court backed Louboutin in a similar legal dispute with Yves Saint Laurent and last month the Paris Court of Appeal granted the designer exclusive rights over the shade of red used on the heel.
- The Daily Telegraph