FASHION NEWS: CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN FAILS TO KEEP HIS TRADEMARK SAFE
Notorious for his signature red-lacquered soles that are victim to mimicry, Christian Louboutin has failed to keep the trademark on those distinctive red bottoms. A trademark is a designer’s legal expression; a legal entity – an individual, business organization – used to claim exclusive properties of a product.
The French designer has lost its trademark protection in the Benelux: a three-country region including Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The case deals with infringement proceedings brought against Val Dalen Footwear B.V. (a retail store in the Netherlands) by Louboutin, for allegedly violating his registered trademark by selling red-soled shoes. Those sleek black stilettos have been envied and has seduced itself into the wardrobes of many. Judge Natalie Swalens of the Rechtbank Van Koophandel te Brussel (Brussels District Court) declares Louboutin’s registered trademark 0874489 invalid against the Netherlands-based shoe company.
This is not the first time the courts have invalidated his signature trademark in Europe. Back in 2012, in the Christian Louboutin vs. Zara France case the court ruled the lack of distinctiveness on the red soles, stating that despite the trademark it relates more to a concept; therefore, Louboutin could not claim a monopoly on the concept of having red soles on women’s shoes. Louboutin is a classic case in the struggle of registering aspects of color and shape marks as trademarks. As a result, the act of protecting a trade dress under trademark and unfair competition laws becomes perverse. Optimistically, this twenty-one year old brand still has lots of fight left; so don’t fret, style-obsessed dames, the continuation of these red-soled stilettos will be kept alive as long as the desire resides in all of us. Let the beautiful blisters proceed.