When you hear the name “Louboutin” what do you immediately think of?
Most people will say it is their trademark red soles.
The only problem is that Christian Louboutin was unable to obtain a registered trademark for these red soles in Switzerland.
The Parisian footwear brand has been turned down by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland in Lausanne to obtain federal trademark protection for its red soles. Although it is currently trademarked in the United States, China, Russia and Australia, the court ruled that it does not automatically mean that it is entitled to the same trademark rights in Switzerland.
This is not the first time that the footwear brand has been engaged in a trademark battle.
In 2011, Louboutin initiated a legal battle against Yves Saint Laurent (“YSL”) over their footwear collection that featured shoes that were in the colour red, including the sole. While Louboutin claimed that YSL was liable for trademark infringement and counterfeiting, false designation of origin, unfair competition and trademark dilution, a New York federal judge denied this and Louboutin lost the case.
However, the brand was able to keep its trademark for the red sole in the U.S. after YSL filed a counterclaim based on the grounds that the red sole trademark should be cancelled because it was merely ornamental and was not distinctive enough, hence making it ineligible for trademark protection.
There were certain limitations placed on the trademark, however, as the court ruled though, that the trademark only applied in circumstances where the red sole contrasted to the rest of the shoe.