Louboutin Wins Trademark Battle in India

Luxury footwear designer Christian Louboutin was awarded almost 10 lakh rupees ($156,078) in damages and a permanent injunction against two shoe dealers for the infringement of its red sole trademark in India.

The Delhi High Court found the shoe traders — named Kamal Family Footwear and Adra Steps — in violation of the red sole trademark, which is on nearly all of the designer’s high-end shoes, and a signature Louboutin detail. Summonses were issued in June 2016 to the defendants, who had sold women’s high heels with red soles.

In the decision, Justice Mukta Gupta observed that Louboutin’s designs were well-known in India and internationally, citing the designer’s 120-plus shops around the world and his two in India.

“[Christian Louboutin] was pivotal in bringing stilettos back into fashion in the 1990s and into the 2000s,” Gupta wrote. “Plaintiff company has gained immense international recognition for its luxury fashion products.”

“The goodwill and renowned reputation of the ‘Red Sole’ trademark has spilled over into India from various countries around the world, and consumers were well aware of this goodwill and reputation even before the plaintiff’s trademark was first formally launched in India,” Gupta added.

Currently, Louboutin is at the center of a court case in Europe about whether the brand should be able to trademark red soles on high-heel shoes. The European Court of Justice’s advocate general, Maciej Szpunar, handed down a preliminary assessment of the case in June, writing that the European Trademark Directive could apply and protect a shape in combination with a color — a promising assessment for the luxury designer.

And Louboutin has gone to court over its red bottoms before: In 2011, the brand had a publicized battle against Saint Laurent in the United States. Saint Laurent won over the design in question — a monochromatic pair of red heels — but the court upheld the label’s trademark.

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