Christian Louboutin secured a victory in its long-running red sole case against Dutch footwear brand Van Haren. Van Haren launched a collection of high-heeled shoes complete with red soles in 2012. Paris-based Louboutin, who own the lacquered Chinese red sole, responded with a trademark infringement lawsuit against the company.
Louboutin argued that the Dutch high street brand was causing confusion amongst consumers and asserted Van Haren was looking to profit from Louboutin’s world-famous red sole, which was a registered trademark years prior to the Dutch company’s collection. The District Court of The Hague ordered Van Haren to immediately cease its manufacturing and sale of black and blue shoes bearing red-soles, and ordered the brand to pay damages to Louboutin as a result of its infringement.
Van Haren, however, appealed this decision and the parties went before the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”). This summer, the EU’s highest court was tasked with determining the common question in nearly every case involving Louboutin: whether the footwear brand’s red sole trademark is valid. The panel stated that Louboutin’s Benelux trademark is just that a color, as opposed to being a sign, and sent the case back to the District Court of The Hague, which handed Louboutin the victory. The court also rejected Van Haren’s counterclaims against Louboutin.
Van Haren was ordered to pay damages to Louboutin, including full legal costs; ordered the company to cease all use of the sign challenged by Louboutin in this matter, to provide Louboutin with the names and addresses of professional customers to which the item was sent, and to compile information regarding the production price and selling price of the shoes at issue, as well as the volume sold.
A representative for Van Haren said that the company is deciding whether it will pursue an appeal of the court’s decision, and currently, the issue is subject of cancellation proceedings with the EUIPO, as initiated by Van Haren early last year.