Swiss court boots French red-soled stiletto maker’s brand bid

A Swiss court threw out a bid by French luxury shoemaker Christian Louboutin to register his red-soled high-heeled shoes as a protected brand, ruling instead that the “somewhat garish colour” is merely a decorative feature.

Christian Louboutin

The shoemaker initially sought trademark protections for his red soles in 2010 in Switzerland. Since then, Louboutin has repeatedly been rebuffed, the latest time by the Federal Administrative Court in a ruling published on Thursday.

“Relevant audiences – namely, mostly female buyers with a slightly elevated fashion sense – perceive colourful or in this case red soles on high-heeled women’s shoes primarily as a decorative element, not a brand,” the three-judge panel wrote.

Louboutin argued, in vain, that jurisdictions including the European Union as well as in China, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Monaco, Singapore and Norway have judged the shoes to merit protections, according to court documents.

Louboutin has been to court before to protect the red-soled high heels, among them ostrich and kid stilettos that on its web site cost nearly 1,000 pounds ($1,450.80).

In the United States in 2012, a federal appeals court handling a dispute involving fashion label Yves Saint Laurent decided the bright red soles of Louboutin’s high heels were so distinctive they deserved trademark protection.

In 2013, Belgian anti-Islam campaigners were ordered by a Brussels court to remove all posters featuring the stilettos of Louboutin’s shoes.

Louboutin can still appeal the latest Swiss ruling to the country’s highest court.

$1 = 0.6893 pounds

 

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