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Christian Louboutin won European Union court battle over his trademark red soles

13 June 2018

Shoe designer Christian Louboutin claimed an important victory in his ongoing battle to trademark red soles, after the European Court of Justice on Tuesday supported the company's claim that the use of a specific shade of red on the underside of its shoes constitutes a recognizable characteristic of the brand.

The legal case centred on European trademark law that forbids the registration of shapes where they add substantial value to goods.

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, a favourite on celebrity red carpets.

Under EU law it was argued companies can not trademark common shapes such as the soles of shoes.

Christian Louboutin's iconic "So Kate" pumps.

In 2014 the case was referred to the European court for clarification and previous year, advocate general Maciej Szpunar said in his advice to the court that it should find in Van Haren's favour in a complicated ruling about shape and colour. Louboutin said it expects the tribunal "to confirm the validity of the red sole trademark".

"The protection of Christian Louboutin's red sole trademark is strengthened by the European Court of Justice", Louboutin said in a statement. "[The company] warmly welcomes this judgement".

While Louboutin has been victorious in trademark litigation in the US - the designer successfully sued YSL in 2012 for trademark infringement - the brand has seen mixed rulings in other regions.

The lawyer added: "It is significant that in the USA and some other counties in Europe, Louboutin has already successfully secured trade mark protection for its red sole shoe design".

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

Christian Louboutin won European Union court battle over his trademark red soles