THE HAGUE: French luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin said Friday he has won a long-running legal battle against a Dutch company that copied his signature red-soled high-heeled shoes.
A court in The Hague ruled that Dutch shoe maker Van Haren must stop selling the look-alike footwear, which went on the market in 2012, and pay damages to Paris-based Louboutin.
The Dutch court ruling follows a general decision last year by the European Court of Justice that Louboutin could trademark the soles and their use of a red pigment called Pantone 18 1663TP.
“Christian Louboutin warmly welcomes this new judgement, which further strengthens the favourable decisions regarding the validity of the red sole trademark already issued in many countries,” the company said in a statement.
The Hague district court said in an order issued on Wednesday that Van Haren’s 2012 shoe model Fifth Avenue by Halle Berry “infringes the trademark rights of the French designer.”
It ordered the Dutch firm to destroy all existing copies of the shoe and to provide details of all outlets in which they were sold.
The Hague court had asked the ECJ, the European Union’s highest court, to decide on the principle of whether Louboutin’s 2010 trademark for the soles was valid.
In a case that vexed the EU’s top legal minds, Van Haren had argued that it was impossible to trademark a shape. Louboutin argued, and the ECJ agreed, that the trademark referred mainly to the colour.
Louboutin has marketed the red-bottomed shoes for more than a quarter of a century and the glam footwear was featured on the consumerism-worshipping television series “Sex and the City”.
Louboutin has faced a series of legal battles over the distinctive soles.
A Paris appeals court in May 2018 ordered the French shoe company Kesslord to pay Louboutin damages after it sold red-bottomed shoes.
In 2012 a US court also said that Louboutin could trademark the red soles, reversing an earlier ruling that would have allowed rival Yves Saint Laurent to paint its outsoles scarlet.
But one year before that Louboutin lost a separate case in France against the Spanish clothing chain Zara.