Exciting news folks – a Belgian court has invalidated Christian Louboutin’s registered trademark on red-soled shoes in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands! Isn’t that lawsuit dead and burried? Nope, only in the US. Here in Europe, the battle over red soles rages on! The court stated that the red sole can’t be trademarked because it gives substantial value to Louboutin’s shoes. Louboutin had brought the lawsuit against a Dutch retailer, Van Dalen Footwear B.V, over the sale of red soled shoes which Louboutin claimed infringed its trademark.
Justice Swalens held that the trademark was invalid and must be declared void owing to a provision in law that excludes registering trademarks of any shapes that give substantial value to a product. She claimed that the trademark held by Louboutin was a shape mark and not a colour mark! She also stated that Louboutin’s trademark lacked a ‘distinctive character’ because red-soled shoes are common within the shoe industry (even though they weren’t before Louboutin made them so…presumably a point Louboutin’s legal team are working into their appeal right now.)
The ruling is unlikely to be too popular over at Louboutin HQ, though it’s hardly surprising given the French Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter back in 2012 when the luxury shoe designer took a lawsuit against fast fashion giant Zara over the use of a red sole on shoes. The court also rejected Louboutin’s trademark for its lack of distinctiveness. Yes, it appears that the European courts are a lot less understanding than their US counterparts when it comes to matters of the sole. Following its epic battle with rival YSL back in 2012, the US courts ruled that Louboutin has the right to trademark protection over his red soles but that other companies–YSL included–may continue to sell shoes with a red sole, so long as the entire shoe is red.
So what next? Well we doubt they’ll be letting this one ago – we’e pretty sure of an appeal. Stay tuned to Wigs And Gowns for updates!