Christian Louboutin Claims Victory After EU Court Ruling on Red Soles

A woman wearing a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes sits in the front row at the Project Runway Fall 2010 collection during New York Fashion Week

Image Louboutin welcomed the ruling

Alexis Mourot, chief operating officer and general manager of the privately held firm, said the ruling meant the court effectively recognized that the red sole was a signature of the Louboutin brand.

The Dutch high street brand argued shapes cannot be registered as trademarks, whereas, Louboutin said the use of it's red colour - named Pantone 18 1663TP - in a certain position - can be registered.

Things are looking up for Christian Louboutin in a five-year-long trademark dispute involving the French design house and Dutch company Van Haren.

In December, Louboutin was awarded nearly 10 lakh rupees ($156,078) in damages and a permanent injunction against two shoe dealers - Kamal Family Footwear and Adra Steps - for infringing on his red-sole trademark in India.

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

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The ECJ said that a trademark, such as Louboutin's, could not be regarded as consisting "exclusively" of a shape, where the main element is a specific colour designated by an internationally recognised identification code.

The ruling strengthens Maison Christian Louboutin's trademark protection, the French company said in a statement. Dutch judges referred the case to the EU's top courts for clarification on the bloc's trademark laws.

The decision goes against a February advisory which suggest Christian Louboutin's red sole trademark could be invalid.

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

Experts said the decision, which will be delivered by a court in The Hague, is a victory for brands hoping to protect their products against cheap rip-offs.

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