No Swiss protection for Louboutin’s red-soled shoes

The designer Christian Louboutin came up with idea of the red soles in 1993 after deciding to enliven a prototype with lipstick to give it more energy Keystone

The quest for obtaining a registered trademark for Louboutin’s famous red-soled heels in Switzerland has come to an end. The country’s highest court has turned down the final appeal of the luxury footwear brand. 

This content was published on February 24, 2017 - 15:51 and agencies

On Friday, the Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne turned down Louboutin’s demand for protection stating that the red soles are merely an aesthetic element and are thus not deserving of trademark protection. The court added that just because the brand managed to wrangle trademark status for its red soles in other countries like China, Russia and Australia doesn’t mean they are entitled to the same status in Switzerland. 

The decision backed one handed down by the Federal Administrative Court in April 2016 that classified the famous red lacquered sole as a “decorative element” and not a brand. Louboutin had appealed against the decision to no avail. 

Stiletto wars

Louboutin has been in court on several occasions to protect his famous red soles. In a case brought by Louboutin in 2013, the Brussels Court of Appeal found that the company has created a distinctive and recognisable marker of its product in the red sole and Dutch company Van Haren was forced to cease production of its red-soled shoes as a result. 

The designer also battledExternal link Yves Saint Laurent in court in New York over the issue in 2012. 

The Frenchman is a big name in the high-fashion shoe design industry. He helped bring stilettos back into fashion in the 1990s and 2000s designing dozens of styles of expensive high heels of up to 120 mm (4.72 inches) and higher. A classic pair of red-soled heels can cost $500 (CHF501) but prices can rise to as much as $6,000 for custom-made pairs.

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