Fight for Red Sole Trademark Registration in China by Christian Louboutin

Since Christian Louboutin first installation shop in France in the early 1990’s, the man and his emblem have determined enthusiasts in sky-high stiletto-wearers and designer sneakers, alike, appeared on nearly every principal purple carpet across the globe, and generated call for that see them promote greater than 1 million pairs of its pricey, purple-soled footwear according to year. In furtherance of its quest for worldwide domination, the famed shoes emblem has been preventing to sign up its purple sole in China, a decade-long circulate that (if successful) will enable it to claim exclusive trademark rights in the only, and save you others from promoting footwear with a similar sole.

In furtherance of its try to amass trademark rights (and registrations) in its famous red shoe sole, including in the U.S. (as we saw play out inside the Louboutin v. YSL case), Mexico, Denmark, Indonesia, Switzerland, India, and Singapore, amongst different countries, Louboutin set its attractions on China in the spring of 2010. At the coronary heart of its quest for exclusive rights? The argument that when purchasers see a pink soled shoe, they hyperlink that shoe to a unmarried source.

Filing a territorial extension in connection with a United Kingdom trademark utility for “the colour crimson (Pantone No. 18.1663TP) implemented to the sole of a shoe,” Louboutin sought registration with the China Trademark Office (“CTO”).

It became now not be long before the CTO driven back, and refused to register the mark on the premise that it consists now not just of the placement of a purple sole on a excessive heel shoe, as Louboutin claimed, but of the layout of a excessive heel shoe, itself, with a red sole. Such a mark, the CTO held, “lacks specialty,” that means that it does now not, on its own, serve to identify the Louboutin brand to purchasers. As such, the mark became not eligible for registration.

Following unsuccessful appeals earlier than China’s Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (“TRAB”), and the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, each of which discovered that Louboutin’s “three-D trademark” for a “high-heeled shoe with the only coloured in pink” was ineligible for registration as a trademark, Louboutin took its case to the Beijing High Court.

Unlike the lower court docket and trademark bodies, the Beijing High Court sided with Louboutin. In a choice in December 2018, the court docket determined that the trademark at difficulty here is not a 3-d mark that includes the design of a shoe. It is, instead, a unmarried colour and its placement on the lowest of a shoe, not the shoe as a whole.

According to the court docket’s decision, this particular arrangement “isn’t always excluded via the law from being registered as a trademark,” so long as the consuming public has come to accomplice the red shoe sole with a single source, something that Louboutin can establish by showing that it has been the use of the mark on goods in China for a while, that it has marketed its mark there, and customers have, in fact, come to associated the purple sole with a unmarried source.

The matter turned into sent back to the TRAB for addition determinations, but inside the process, Louboutin hit a snag when the trademark body in the long run sought a rehearing via the Supreme People’s Court, putting forward that China’s trademark regulation does no longer offer for protection for “a unmarried shade unique to be applied at a sure position,” or even if it did, Louboutin has didn’t establish through manner of the proof it submitted that its purple sole has obtained the requisite specialty to revel in trademark safety in China.

But no longer all is misplaced for a Louboutin. In fact, in a recent decision, the Supreme People’s Court upheld the Beijing High Court’s finding, confirming that “a single color distinctive to be carried out at a positive position” is, in fact, a registerable kind of trademark, marking a first-rate victory for Louboutin, according to Zhu Zhigang, a trademark legal professional at Beijing-based totally Marques.

Still up for determination earlier than the TRAB: whether Louboutin has sufficiently established that the crimson sole mark has collected the needful level of secondary that means on the way to perform as a trademark. In other words, Louboutin has to show – thru evidence of its duration of use of the mark, exclusivity within the market, third-birthday celebration media attention, sales success, etc. – that clients have come to link its use of color to a unmarried source.

Zhigang says that the selection from the Supreme People’s Court, which follows from a decade-long again-and-forth over the purple sole mark, “could help pave the way for the registration of its signature purple sole alternate mark in China,” but it is still no longer in all likelihood to be an open-and-close case even at this point. He says that “it could logically be anticipated that the TRAB will keep its position” that Louboutin’s crimson sole has no longer obtained the vital distinctiveness, in which case, the matter will go returned before the courts for a final determination.

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China Trademark Registration | Frequently Asked Questions- Part 2

Most of the cases it is noticed that foreign businesses pay less interest to registering their trademark in China. But it is very crucial not to forget that China does not provide protection for unregistered trademark under common law in recent days. The price of China trademark registration is colossal and the foreign firms having enterprise interest over right here simply can’t forget about the need for registering trademark in China.

After the previous article on tricky Q-A on China Trademark Registration, we are going to discuss some of the frequently asked questions on the mentioned topic over here.

Frequently Asked Questions on China Trademark Registration:

Is there a time frame for the trademark registration approval? 

The average time frame for the registration approval is 15 months, if no objections or oppositions arise.

If someone registers a trademark in China, will he/she gets protection in other territories?

No. A registered mark is protected only in Mainland China.

Is it necessary to sign a Power of Attorney?


Are there any benefits from a pre-filing use of the trademark?

The benefits from a pre-filing use are minimal since rights are obtained via registration. However, the applicant can use this to demonstrate the mark’s distinctiveness and overcome opposition on the ground of non-distinctiveness.

Can an unused trademark registration harms latter?

Yes. A registered mark can be attacked on the ground of non-use.

What are the types of trademark that can be registered in China?

>> Words

>> Names

>> Devices

>> Certain 3-dimensional shapes

>> Slogans

>> Colours

>> Sounds

>> Get-up or trade dress

>> Combination of all of the above elements

>> Collective marks

>> Service marks

>> Certification marks

>> Well-known marks

What are the phases of application after a trademark has been filed in China?

There phases are there: 

Examination, Publication, Registration

What type of trademark is not registrable?

The following marks are prohibited from registration:

>> Marks that are against the moral standards or public order of China

>> Generic words or terms

>> Symbol, flag, or name of a state, nation, region, or an international organization

>> Marks that lack distinctive qualities

>> Marks that are used primarily to indicate a geographical location name

>> Marks that may mislead consumers

Does China use the “Nice Classification” system?

Yes. China uses the system of Nice Classification.

Does the Community Trademark apply for China?

No. Community Trademark does not apply for China.

Is it possible to cancel a registration?

Yes. The following are grounds for cancellation:

>> Descriptive mark

>> Misleading and/or deceptive mark

>> Lack of distinctiveness

>> Generic mark

>> Mark is a geographical indication

>> Functional mark

>> Violation of public policy or principles of morality

>> Unauthorized marks by competent authorities pursuant to Article 6ter of the Paris Convention

>> Inclusion of a badge or emblem of particular public interest

>> Using of the mark in a misleading manner

>> Prohibited marks in this jurisdiction

>> Application was made in bad faith

>> Registrant’s breach of a technical provision of the law

>> Fraudulent registration

>> Use Requirements under Section V.G. are not met

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