SOLE SPEAK: Even the chattiest of designer brands tend to go quiet when disputes become court cases — not so when it’s Christian Louboutin and the issue at hand is the famous red under sole.
“While ordinarily Christian Louboutin does not comment directly on pending matters, we are making an exception in this instance to correct what appears to be misleading reports of the opinion of M. Szpunar, advocate general, which is seen to impact our trademark adversely. We disagree,” the brand said.
Louboutin, which prevailed in a hard-fought red-soled legal battle with Yves Saint Laurent in New York in 2012, has been squaring off in the European Court of Justice with shoe company Van Haren Schoenen.
Louboutin argued that summaries of the advocate general’s opinion misread its true meaning, which in actuality “supports trademark protection for our famous red sole, rather than threatening it.”
The brand said: “Advocate general Szpunar states that ‘The concept of a shape which ‘gives substantial value’ to the goods…relates only to the intrinsic value of the shape, and does not permit the reputation of the mark or its proprietor to be taken into account.”
“Applying Mr. Szpunar’s opinion to our case support the validity of our trademark since the shape of the outsole to which the red color is applied is not intrinsically valuable,” the brand said. “As for the Christian Louboutin’s red color, the only reason it has value is because of our marketing efforts as well as the public’s association of such color applied to a women’s heeled shoe outsole with Christian Louboutin.”
The company declared that the “opinion is not a blow or a setback in Christian Louboutin protection of its famous red sole mark but is ultimately reinforcing our rights.”
The designer came upon his signature color when he, unhappy with the look of a shoe, took a coworker’s red nail polish and painted one sole red.
“It transformed the shoe and it really became my drawing,” he said last year. “I thought, ‘This is it. You just have to outline it with color.’”