CJEU: Louboutin's red sole is a valid trade mark

Print this page 12-06-2018
IPPT20180612, CJEU, Louboutin v Van Haren

(Courtesy of Jesse Hofhuis, Hofhuis Alkema Groen and Thierry van Innis, Van Innis & Delarue)


Article 3 (1) (e) (iii) of Directive 2008/95 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks must be interpreted as meaning that a sign consisting of a color applied to the sole of a high-heeled shoe, as that at at issue in the main proceedings, does not consist exclusively of the 'shape' within the meaning of that provision.




From the press release: "In today's judgment, the Court takes the view that, since the trade mark directive provides no definition of the concept of ‘shape’, the meaning of that concept must be determined by considering its usual meaning in everyday language. The Court points out that it does not follow from the usual meaning of that concept that a colour per se, without an outline, may constitute a ‘shape’.


Furthermore, while it is true that the shape of the product or of a part of the product plays a role in creating an outline for the colour, it cannot, however, be held that a sign consists of that shape in the case where the registration of the mark did not seek to protect that shape but sought solely to protect the application of a colour to a specific part of that product. In the present instance, the mark does not relate to a specific shape of sole for high-heeled shoes since the description of that mark explicitly states that the contour of the shoe does not form part of the mark and is intended purely to show the positioning of the red colour
covered by the registration.


The Court also holds that a sign, such as that at issue, cannot, in any event, be regarded as consisting ‘exclusively’ of a shape, where the main element of that sign is a specific colour designated by an internationally recognised identification code."


IPPT20180612, CJEU, Louboutin v Van Haren


C-163/16 - ECLI:EU:C:2018:423


Press release