Christian Louboutin loses trademark case in Japan
Christian Louboutin, the Paris-based luxury shoemaker known for its iconic red soles, has lost a trademark infringement case in Japan.
Louboutin alleged the shoes sold by Eizo Co. Ltd. infringe intellectual property rights and sought damages under Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Law.
Eizo, a footwear manufacturer and retailer founded in 1959, sold a similar red sole on a women’s pump, although its sole was constructed of rubber, not leather. The court ruled against Louboutin, stating the colour red is a common aesthetic enhancement and women’s heels with red soles were widely distributed prior to the market entry of Louboutin. The court also said under the practice in commerce, two decades of sales in Japan and advertising would be insufficient to find Louboutin’s red soles to have played a role as the original source in Japan.
Louboutin clearly marks its soles with its brand and logo, with the court finding customers would not be confused between the two brands. The court also considered its market pricing with Louboutin charging premium prices as a luxury brand and Eizo selling at lower price points, to further prevent confusion between the brands.