If there’s one brand of shoes which you can never mistake, that’s Christian Louboutin. A lot of that is due to the famous red soles of each and every pair of shoes that the designer makes. But that may change and not because Louboutin wants it.
Louboutin could lose the trademark to his red soles, the Telegraph reports. Currently his brand has this trademark with the color red Pantone 18 1663TP when applied to the sole of a shoe. This means companies can use other shades of red and other colors.
Still, the European Court of Justice is looking into the trademark because it combines both color and shape. And this is something that could make it invalid. There’s an argument that the shape includes the color. If it does, then the trademark can be ruled invalid.
As you can imagine, if that happens, anyone could use the same color to the sole of any shoe. This could ruin Louboutin’s image and reputation. On the other hand, one could argue that even with the trademark in place, there are many copycats right now, especially from cheaper and nameless shoe makers. There’s also a lot of imitations.
This whole thing stems from a 2012 case between Louboutin and Dutch high street chain Van Haren which wanted to sell copycat versions of Louboutin’s shoes. At the time Christian Louboutin argued that the shoes infringed his brand’s trademark. The District Court in The Hague agreed and ordered Van Haren to stop producing its black and blue shoes with red soles.
But Van Haren appealed against that decision and in 2014 the case was referred to the ECJ for “clarification”. Van Haren argues the trademark is invalid because EU law does not allow trademarks that consist solely of “the shape that gives substantial value to the goods”.
It’s in the court’s hands for what will happen. And it will take some time before the court completes the trademark check and comes up with a decision. Afterwards, there will be objections from either or both parties for sure. So, while things don’t look good for Louboutin’s red soles for now, it’s still up in the air.