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Paris Court of Appeal acknowledges the exclusivity of Louboutin's red soles

By
AFP
Translated by
Robin Driver
Published
today May 21, 2018
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The Paris Court of Appeal has acknowledged the exclusive rights of designer Christian Louboutin for red shoe soles in a dispute pitting the label against Kesslord, a brand offering models with similar features for sale. 


Collection printemps-été 2018 - Christian Louboutin


Christian Louboutin's internationally recognised trademark is lacquering the soles of its vertigo-inducing high-heeled shoes with a very particular shade of bright red, corresponding to Pantone #18.1663TP.

In 2013, the brand formally warned leather goods company Kesslord, which was selling red-soled shoes, claiming that the items reproduced characteristics of the brand's registered trademark. After a series of exchanges, Kesslord decided to take Christian Louboutin and his company to Paris' High Court, requesting that the renowned trademark be voided. 

In March 2017, the High Court decided in favour of Christian Louboutin and sentenced Kesslord to pay 5,000 euros to the French designer and his company. On Thursday, Christian Louboutin told AFP that Paris' Court of Appeal had confirmed the judgement and increased the sum to be paid to the brand to 7,500 euros. 

"With this judgement, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that adding the colour red to the sole of a high-heeled shoe is protectable under trademark law. This confirms the argument upheld by Christian Louboutin for several years now and recognises the exclusive nature of this mark which allows the public to identify the designer," emphasised the French brand. 

In the judgement that AFP consulted, the Court of Appeal highlighted the fact that "the French graphic trademark N° 3869370 held by Christian Louboutin meets the conditions" of the intellectual property code, which stipulates that the constituent elements of a trademark can be "visual marks such as [...] dispositions, combinations or shades of colours". 

Over the last few years, the question of the exclusive rights for Louboutin's red soles has resulted in a number of court cases. In 2012, for example, an American court recognised the the soles as a protected trademark, "unless the rest [of the shoe] is the same colour". Another case is currently underway at the Court of Justice of the European Union which should be announcing its decision in the next few weeks concerning a dispute between Louboutin and a Dutch company. 

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