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ECJ ruling sees Louboutin walk all over the competition

The question over whether a shoe sole can be trade marked has taken a designer step forward this week.

Christian Louboutin has won the backing of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in its ongoing legal battle to protect its world-renowned red soled shoes.

The ECJ ruling is the latest chapter in the designer brand’s lengthy legal battle to protect the trade mark of its distinctive red sole.

Louboutin initially launched legal proceedings in 2012 after rival brand Van Haren began selling its own brand of red-soled shoes, which were similar in appearance to theirs.

The renowned shoe designer then sued the Dutch company which sparked a lengthy legal battle, which this week finally reached the EU’s highest court.

The case has ignited discussion throughout the intellectual property community about the protection of  shapes of products and the position of distinctive features.

In this case  the ECJ has ruled that the colour red was considered to be separate from the common shape of a shoe as well as the sole. It has therefore been awarded protection. It is now down to the Dutch Court to deliver the final ruling. 

Gareth JenkinsPartner and Trade Mark Attorney at Wynne Jones IP said the case was a potential game changer when it came to seeking additional commercial advantage through  trade marks. This landmark ruling will no doubt set a precedent for other brands within the fashion and design industries looking to secure their position through more innovative and distinct branding".

“This is a positive decision for brand owners and I’m certain that it will spark a number of cases of designers looking to protect all sorts of colours, positioned all over products.   

“Once the Dutch court delivers its final ruling it should allow Louboutin to protect its brand against potential copycats and those looking to exploit its reputation by infringing on the shoes’ distinctive feature in the future.

“What is certain is this case will undoubtedly lead to a number of interesting trade mark opportunities over the coming years.”





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