Christian Louboutin Wins Unfair Competition Case in China

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SHANGHAI — Christian Louboutin scored another win for its red sole trademark, this time in an unfair competition case against Guangdong Wanlima Industrial Co., Ltd., a leather manufacturer publicly listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Beijing Intellectual Property Court ruled Wanlima’s use of red-sole designs and the term “red-sole shoes” in its product descriptions are highly similar to Louboutin’s, which constitutes a “malicious infringement” of the French luxury brand’s signature design.

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According to court documents, Wanlima was ordered to immediately cease selling red-soled shoes permanently and pay Louboutin 5 million renminbi, or $721,948, in damages and 445,000 renminbi, or $64,253, in legal expenses.

To prove the impact of its red-sole stilettos and brand association in the China market, Louboutin submitted evidence stating the brand started promoting its signature red-sole products in mainland China in 2003 and started selling red-sole products in the market in 2011.

The French luxury footwear brand revealed that sales in mainland China exceeded 900 million renminbi, or $129.9 million, since that time.

The court ruled the evidence was sufficient to prove Louboutin’s red sole “decoration” and “trade name” as having “a certain influence.”

Siding with Louboutin, the court ruled Wanlima’s products caused misunderstanding for being an authorized Louboutin product, which constitutes a breach of section 6(a) of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law.

Wanlima has been selling Louboutin-lookalike high heels on its Wanlima Footwear Tmall official store, Saint Jack Tmall official store and at the department store Beijing New World Centre.

Louboutin’s win followed a 2020 victory when the Chinese Supreme Court ruled in favor of the brand in Christian Louboutin v. China National Intellectual Property Administration.

The court ruled that Louboutin’s red sole is a lawful “position and single-color combination” mark and should be recognized as a registrable trademark.

But to officially register as a trademark in China, Louboutin still has to prove the significance of its red-sole design to China’s IP court.

Louboutin’s famous red-sole design is currently registered as a trademark in the United States and the EU.

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