Don’t step on my red soled shoes…

Friday 29th June 2018

Christian Louboutin, the renowned footwear designer, has won the right to protect his signature red soles from imitators.

A competitor company had argued that the soles could not be protected by trademark as they were simply a shape.

Generally, the shape of a product cannot be trademarked when it serves a technical function, which has been the case with famous brands like Kit Kat and the Rubik’s Cube puzzle.

However, the European Court of Justice has decided that the colour of Louboutin’s soles does not relate to the shape of the sole but the specific colour applied. On that basis, it is likely that the local court (on this occasion in Holland) will decide that the red colour of the shoes’ soles can be protected by trademark.

This case demonstrates the importance of protecting the features which distinguish your brand and denote the origins of the product. A brand that is copied can rapidly be devalued. It also confirms that, whilst a shape in itself might not be protected by trademark, other distinguishing features may be.

If you have any questions about trademarks or intellectual property rights generally, please contact Stephen McVey or Catherine Woodward.