Christian Louboutin has won a key legal case in a long-running battle to protect its signature red soles from copycats.
The French designer went to court in The Netherlands to prevent the Dutch high street chain Van Haren from selling its own versions of high-heeled shoes with red soles, a favourite on celebrity red carpets.
The EU court has 'confirmed that the legal regime governing shape trademarks does not apply to Christian Louboutin's red sole mark, ' the French company said in a statement. But the European court of justice disagreed, ruling that Louboutin's design "is not covered by the prohibition of the registration of shapes".
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At issue was whether Louboutin's trademark should be considered a shape trademark or a position trademark - an important distinction as European trademark law does not protect signs consisting exclusively of the shape of a product.
'The protection of Christian Louboutin's red sole trademark is strengthened by the European Court of Justice, ' Louboutin said in a statement reported by Reuters.
But Louboutin argued that the use of a colour in a certain position - specifically in this case a red pigment called Pantone 18 1663TP - can be.
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The Dutch company took the case to the EU court citing European regulations that shapes by themselves can not be registered as trademarks. Louboutin said it expects the tribunal "to confirm the validity of the red sole trademark". "Maison Christian Louboutin warmly welcomes this judgement".
In February, Louboutin appeared to suffer a setback when the ECJ advocate general Maciej Szpunar said the combination of a colour and shape could be refused trademark protection.
The Hague Court will deliver the final ruling on the matter based on the decision.
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