Bad news for Christian Louboutin, after a Belgian court has invalidated their registered trademark for red-soled shoes in the Benelux,
Louboutin has been a big source for our blog over the last years (see earlier posts here), and yet again the shoe designer takes the IP spotlight.
The Belgian court ruled that the red sole cannot be a trademark, because it gives substantial value to Louboutin’s shoes. In other words, people buy their shoes because of the red sole. Louboutin had sued Dutch retailer Van Dalen Footwear B.V over the sale of red soled shoes which Louboutin claimed infringed its trademark.
Furthermore, the court ruled that Louboutin’s trademark lacked ‘distinctive character’, since it is not uncommon in the shoe industry for footwear to have red soles (even though they weren’t before Louboutin made them!).
It is highly unlikely that Louboutin is walking away from the case now. They will probably file an appeal. It remains an interesting case: do people buy them because of the red sole, or because they are gorgeous designer shoes. Do people buy a Ferrari because it is a Ferrari (and thus the trademark is not distinctive) of because it is an exclusive sports car? Do people wear Lacoste shirts because they have a great fit, or because there is a crocodile on the shirt? MarkMatters.com is looking forward to the outcome.