Louboutin has won an important victory before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in its ongoing battle to protect the red soles of its shoes. The case will be welcomed by the luxury industry and brand owners across Europe who seek to use registered trade marks - in particular colour marks - to protect their brand.
The case in question centred on a fairly technical area of EU trade mark law. In particular, the ECJ had to consider whether Louboutin’s registered trade mark - which consists of the colour red applied to the sole of shoes - was exclusively a shape mark. If this were the case, the trade mark would be invalid under EU law.
The ECJ found that Louboutin’s trade mark did not relate exclusively to a specific shape of sole for high heeled shoes, and that it was therefore valid. The decision is unusual, as the Court did not follow the reasoning of the Advocate General, which had earlier (see our update here) opined to the contrary.
The decision in this case has been much awaited, as onlookers in the luxury industry have sought clarification on this evolving area of trade mark law. The case will be welcomed by brands and others that seek to protect the use of a particular colour on specified areas of their goods.
This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
© Farrer & Co LLP, August 2018.