French shoemaker Christian Louboutin, famous for his stiletto heels, has suffered a severe setback in his battle to protect the trademark red sole.
On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice’s advocate general Maciej Szpunar said the combination of a colour and a shape may be refused trademark protection. The ECJ will now issue a ruling.
The French designer went to court in the Netherlands to prevent the Dutch high street shoe chain VanHaren from selling its own red-soled shoes, in a range endorsed by actor Halle Berry. VanHaren argued the existing Louboutin trademark was invalid.
Sanjay Kapur, partner and trade mark attorney at intellectual property firm Potter Clarkson LLP, said: “If the ECJ follow the advocate general’s opinion, then this could mean that Louboutin would not be able to stop its competitors, including haute couture fashion houses, from offering shoes with red soles. The red sole could therefore become ubiquitous, which would seriously reduce the cachet associated with the Louboutin brand.”
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