Following a heated legal battle with Yves Saint Laurent that ended in 2012, Christian Louboutin's red sole trademark is at issue again. The Paris-based footwear brand – which is famous for its Chinese red shoe soles – is back in court, this time in a dispute against Dutch footwear brand Van Haren.
Louboutin filed suit against the rival footwear maker in 2013 in the Netherlands, seeking an order from the court to force Van Haren to stop selling its own red soled shoes under its own brand name. In April 2013, the District Court of The Hague awarded Louboutin a preliminary injunction, ordering Van Haren to cease its manufacturing and selling of black and blue shoes bearing red-soles, and to pay Louboutin's court costs and legal fees.
Van Haren appealed this decision and in March 2014, the Courts of Appeals referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to determine whether Louboutin's trademark is valid. As of this week, the European Court of Justice’s advocate general, Maciej Szpunar, issued an opinion stating that the European Trademark Directive could, in fact, apply to and protect a shape in combination with a color (in this case, high heels and bright red) – which bodes well for Louboutin.
Issued on Thursday, the opinion is a preliminary assessment of the case, with a final ruling to come within the next several months.
Louboutin could certainly use a win in the case, as it was handed an unfavorable ruling earlier this year in connection with its quest to obtain federal trademark protection for its red soles in Switzerland. As reported by local Swiss media outlets in February, the country’s highest court turned down Louboutin’s final appeal for protection, holding that its red soles are merely aesthetic and as a result, are not worthy of trademark protection.