Dutch shoe chain Van Haren did infringe trademark law by copying the yellow stitching on lace-up boots made by the popular Dr Martens brand, judges in The Hague have said.
The company, which has 143 outlets nationwide, faces a fine of up to €1 million if it continues to sell the boots with the distinctive yellow stitches round the welt, which first came on the market in 1960.
The case dates back to 2020, when brand owner Airwair started two cases against Van Haren, one of which it lost on appeal.
The second case, focusing on the yellow stitching, has now proved successful. It was largely based on newspaper articles and reviews, describing the original shoes as ‘iconic’ and ‘immediately recognisable’.
Appeal court judges in The Hague have now ruled that the yellow stitching is meant to stand out and make the boots look different, so that trade mark law is applicable.
Four of the 10 styles of boots in the legal battle could therefore be said to conflict with trademark law and should be removed from sale, the judges said.
In 2019, Van Haren lost a lengthy legal battle with luxury shoe group Louboutin over the use of distinctive red soles on women’s footwear. Louboutin started the legal action in 2012, when Van Haren brought out a range of shoes by actress Halle Berry which included high heeled shoes with red soles.
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