For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

"Save our Soles!": Christian sues well-heeled Spaniards

The Kat knows that something is a-foot ...
This Kat thanks the fashonistas in her firm's London office (you know who you are) for drawing her attention to the latest decision in Christian Louboutin versus anyone who dares to sell red-soled high heeled shoes (unfortunately this Kat's hind paw is still on the mend, so wearing any form of high heeled shoes, red-soled or otherwise, is completely out of the question at the moment).  This time, proceedings were in France and were brought against Spanish fashion retailer Zara. Back in 2008, Mr Louboutin commenced proceedings against Zara for selling an open-toed red-soled slingbacks for €49 (£40) which, it claimed, was similar to its Yo Yo Slingback (which normally sells for around €490 (£395)). Zara responded by arguing that customers would not be confused between the two shoes.

In June 2011, the Cour d'appel found in favour of Zara on the ground that Louboutin’s trade mark registration was too vague in that it did not contain a Pantone colour reference for the red-soled soles. Louboutin appealed to the Cour de Cassation, which last week upheld the lower court's decision in favour of Zara and found that there was no legal or procedural error in the case. It also ordered that Louboutin pay Zara €2,500 (£2,000) in compensation.

Spot the difference: Christian Louboutin v Zara
The fashionistas out there will recall that Louboutin claims to have come up with the idea for his red-soled heels some 20 years ago when he painted red nail polish on the black soles of a pair of women's shoes [Merpel wonders whether anyone was wearing them at the time -- now, that would have made an interesting story!]. Earlier this year, Louboutin told French newspaper Libération why red-soled shoes are so important to him:
'I understand that [that I cannot monopolise a colour], but it is a red in a specific context, there is Ferrari red [and] Hermès orange. Even in the food industry, Cadbury recently won a lawsuit against Nestlé for using purple packaging. All this proves that the colours play a part in a brand's identity. I'm not saying that red usually belongs to me - I repeat that this is about a precise red, used in a precise location.'
The IPKat has heard whispers that Louboutin has since cancelled the 'vague' trade mark and has filed a new application containing, in particular, the Pantone shade in question. He wonders how successful this might Considering the Community trade mark scene, he notes that Louboutin filed a trade mark for the colour Pantone 18.1663TP, applied to the sole of a shoe as shown on the right (no 008845539), which was successfully opposed by a number of German shoe companies.

For Louboutin v YSL see the AmeriKat’s Posts here and here.

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