Intellectual Property: A Dedicated Follower of Fashion? – A Dutch Perspective

Monday, 1 September 2014

The fashion industry is a booming business. Despite the economic downturn, the turnover of the French fashion concern Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton rose by 4 per cent in 2013, the concern gaining a total profit of a stunning 6 billion euros. In the same vein, profits of luxury brand Michael Kors skyrocketed to 229,6 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2013, which is an increase of 77 per cent. Extensive investment in brands and collections are often named as the cornerstone of success of the fashion houses. That investment may indeed pay off was proved by Louboutin. Louboutin obtained trade mark protection for the red sole of a women’s pump in several jurisdictions, among others in the United States in 2012 and in 2013 also in the Netherlands: in Louboutin v Van Haren the District Court The Hague held that the average consumer has come to recognise the red sole of a women’s pump as originating from a particular trader as a result of Louboutin having applied it consequently on women’s footwear. As this judgment is the first in Europe to grant trade mark protection to Louboutin’s red shoe soles following the US judgment on this matter in 2012, the authors thought it valuable to provide a little more insight into the various Dutch intellectual property laws that can be invoked to protect fashion items against counterfeit.

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