Shoemaker Louboutin wins EU court battle over red soles

Meghan Markle Christian Loubotin European Union

Christian Louboutin has won a key legal case in a long-running battle to protect its signature red soles from copycats.

The French designer, Christian Louboutin, went to court in Netherlands to fight against the Dutch chain Van Haren from selling its own versions of high-heeled shoes with red soles.

Initially played out in a court in the Netherlands, the French designer attempted to block Van Haran from selling its own versions of the red-soled shoes.

Its ruling centred on whether the red soles should be considered to consist exclusively of a "shape" - in which case it would not have been entitled to trademark protection.

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.

In 2013, Van Haren was forced to cease production of the shoes in question when the Brussels Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Louboutin, finding that the red soles represented a distinctive marker for consumers.

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

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

Louboutin said in a statement that it "warmly welcomes this judgment".

"This case will now be referred back to The Hague Court which is expected to confirm the validity of the red sole trademark".

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

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. "This is a total victory for the brand ..."

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