Christian Louboutin’s ongoing pursuit of his red-soled heel patent has taken him across the world through different economic markets. While he has seen some success in countries like Australia, China and Russia, the same can’t be said for every country he’s filed in.
His denied claim of copyright infringement in New York by a federal judge during his legal battle with Yves Saint-Laurent five years prior comes to mind. He was able to retain the trademark for his red sole in that case.
Fast forwarding to modern day, Louboutin’s most recent dispute comes from the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, who denied his trademark request and final appeal. According to the court, this came from their viewpoint that the red sole is an aesthetic element of the shoe. They also cited his previous victories in other countries, adding that it did not ensure the same to occur in Switzerland.
“This case enables us to compare the different approaches taken in countries as far afield as the U.S., Russia, Australia and now Switzerland. The common thread is that claiming a monopoly on a color is always going to be difficult, although not impossible, but you have to frame your application for a trademark very carefully to avoid the color being seen as simply aesthetic as opposed to a guarantee of origin to the consumer,” stated London-based Gowling WLG law firm partner, Alex Brodie.
Switzerland’s denial is a set back for Christian Louboutin’s iconic product in the country. Still, it is only one decision, albeit a perfect example of differing opinions among countries across the planet. It could be as much of a set back for the designer as it is reassurance of his ability to produce his classic heel.