French luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin on Tuesday suffered a setback in an EU legal battle over his signature red-soled high-heeled shoes.
Louboutin in 2012 took Dutch shoemaker Van Haren to court in the Netherlands after Van Haren sold similar women’s shoes with red soles.
The Parisian designer said he had already trademarked the style in Europe in 2010 and 2013.
However, Van Haren challenged the lawsuit and the Dutch court referred the issue to the European Court of Justice, the bloc’s top court.
The chief adviser to the Luxembourg-based court, Advocate General Maciej Szpunar, backed Louboutin’s opponent on Tuesday.
“According to Advocate General Szpunar, a trademark combining color and shape may be refused or declared invalid on the grounds set out under EU trade mark law,” the EU court said in a statement.
Szpunar said it was possible such a trademark could be “unduly restricting” for other retailers “offering for sale goods or services of the same type.”
The opinion is not binding on the EU court, but it often follows the thinking of the advocate general.
The EU opinion runs counter to that of a US court, which in 2012 ruled that Louboutin could trademark his famous red soles.
The US court reversed a ruling that would have allowed rival Yves Saint Laurent SAS to paint its outsoles scarlet.
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