Dutch shoe retail group Van Haren has lost its lengthy EU 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. The French company said the shoes infringed the Louboutin trade mark and was granted a temporary injunction against the Dutch high street staple.
In 2014 the case was referred to the European court for clarification and last year, advocate general Maciej Szpunar said in his advice to the court that it should find in Van Haren’s favour in a complicated ruling about shape and colour.
Under EU law, shapes cannot be registered as trademarks and Van Haren argued that the soles of shoes are therefore not trademarked.
However, the court has gone against the recommendations of the advocate general and found in favour of the French brand.
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.
The case will now be referred back to The Hague court for its final ruling.