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EU steps on Christian Louboutin’s red-soled shoe in branding battle

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LONDON—Can you trademark a colour?

French shoe designer Christian Louboutin — known for sky-high stiletto shoes with scarlet soles that can sell for upward of $1,000 — has been trying to do so for years. Louboutin first grabbed his assistant’s red nail polish and applied it to the outsoles of a shoe a quarter century ago. Since then, he has frequently declared the design element to be his recognizable signature, and argued it merits legal protection.

This week, the European Union’s highest court dealt a blow to that effort.

Louboutin had filed a lawsuit in 2012 against Van Haren, a Dutch company whose retail outlets were selling affordably priced high-heeled women’s shoes with red soles. Lawyers for Louboutin claimed that the shoes sold by Van Haren, part of its Fifth Avenue by Halle Berry line, infringed his brand’s trademark for footwear. That trademark, registered in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, referred to “the colour red (Pantone 18 1663TP) applied to the sole of a shoe.”

Van Haren had to temporarily stop making and selling the line of shoes, but the company’s lawyers fought back and the case eventually made its way to the European Court of Justice.

They have now won something of a reprieve. Maciej Szpunar, an advocate general for the court, said on Tuesday that Louboutin’s red soles were not a separate entity from the shape of his high-heeled shoes, and shapes typically cannot be trademarked under EU law.

In effect, he argued in a legal opinion, Louboutin’s red soles could be refused trademark protection, sending the case back to Dutch courts to consider. Judges in national courts typically, though not always, follow advice from the European Court of Justice’s advocates general.

The case highlights one of the most difficult questions in fashion — in a world where designers often have distinct styles, and attract admirers based on those styles, what can, and cannot, be trademarked?

Major luxury conglomerates such as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering have historically been the most litigious, often using the courts to battle the counterfeiting that has long been a headache in the fashion industry. More recently, however, smaller brands and designers have also started to pursue legal action, particularly against larger luxury or fast-fashion companies which they claim use their designs without acknowledgment or permission.

Last week, Indian designer Orijit Sen and his New Delhi-based studio and store People Tree accused Christian Dior of plagiarizing a block print of a man doing yoga poses. Sen argued that he had formulated the design in 2000, and complained when it was used for a red dress worn by Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor on the cover of Elle’s Indian edition last month. He posted his complaints on Facebook under the title “Unchristian Dior.”

And in 2016, fast-fashion chain Zara was accused by at least 20 independent artists of plagiarizing designs, while one of the most powerful voices to emerge in the online fashion world in recent months is Diet Prada, an Instagram account dedicated to calling out copying in the industry.

Indeed, illustrating the complexity of the issue, Louboutin previously won a battle against rival luxury fashion house Yves Saint Laurent in a U.S. federal appeals court, allowing him to protect his red soles as a source-identifying trademark.

But Szpunar’s opinion for the European Court of Justice “could mean that Louboutin would not be able to stop its competitors, including haute couture fashion houses, from offering shoes with red soles,” said Sanjay Kapur, a partner at British law firm Potter Clarkson and a specialist in trademark law.

Trying to persuade courts to grant such protection to designs such as Louboutin’s “may well be an insurmountable hurdle,” Kapur said. “The red sole could therefore become ubiquitous, which would seriously reduce the cachet associated with the Louboutin brand.”

 

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What does Digital Marketing in South Africa look like today?

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Digital Marketing around the world is at different stages of advancement, from the highly competitive online world in the UK and the US to the less established but rapidly growing scene in countries like South Africa.
In this article, we’re going to pick the brains of James Williams, the Head of Digital Marketing at online loan provider Wonga South Africa, to see what the world of Digital Marketing looks like today, and how it compares to some of the world’s most developed online markets.

Having worked in Digital Marketing in London for a number of years before returning to his native South Africa to take the reigns at Wonga, James is perfectly positioned to compare the two. These are his thoughts…

The importance of culture

One of the key lessons James learned when moving from the UK to the South African market was the importance of culture, and how this affects just about everything you do online. Businesses often talk about ‘localising’ their online assets when expanding into foreign markets and this same process needs to be used to adapt their digital marketing efforts.

When talking about localising assets, it means adapting a product, service or piece of content to meet the needs of a particular language, culture or desired population’s ‘look-and-feel’. The same needs to be done to a business’s Digital Marketing strategy.

In South Africa, there are 11 different languages, each tied to a very different culture. That makes the outreach process much more challenging than in a single language market like the UK. James found that the strategies that were working well in London were producing mediocre engagement rates in South Africa. Instead, James had to almost forget the techniques that had worked before and try new strategies, explore new territory and collect fresh data to help him decide the best approaches to take.

Choosing the right language

Another important consideration for businesses operating online in South Africa is what language to use to attract the greatest level of engagement. The vast majority of South Africans can speak English, but the use of Afrikaans online is currently growing rapidly. That means companies with the resources to do so would be wise to produce all their online assets in both English and Afrikaans.

The primary language used online can also change significantly from location to location. For example, the Western Cape area is largely Afrikaans speaking, while the province of KwaZulu Natal is predominantly Zulu. Digital Marketing campaigns need to reflect this if they are to be successful.

The burgeoning digital scene

One of the biggest benefits of the South African digital scene is the fact that it’s still very much in its infancy when compared to the US and UK. That’s actually a good thing because it means the consumer hasn’t yet been exposed to the huge amount of low-quality content marketing that is all over the internet in the UK. So, when you do create a quality campaign in South Africa, you tend to get the rewards it deserves. In the UK or the US, it is much easier for the quality campaigns to be lost among the bad digital practices that can be found all over the web.

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Easy Instagram Marketing Tips For Gaining Real-Time Results

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With time, Instagram is turning out to be an engaging and quite popular social media application. With more than 8 billion registered accounts, it is one of the best social media platforms, proven for brand building and marketing. Around 80 million photos are uploaded in this platform on a daily basis making it a huge active user base. So, if you are planning to run your business with Instagram by your side, you have make way for the right decision. But first, you need to know about easy Instagram marketing tips for gaining real results.

Switch to Instagram business profile:

Before embarking in Instagram marketing journey, you have to be in business account. There are some obvious benefits to switch into business profile.

  • Apart from visiting your website, followers can click on contact button to get in direct touch with your business team.
  • You will get an easy access to the analytics tool straight from Instagram called Insights. Here, you get to see some stats like content reach, impressions and more.
  • You can also create and even publish some Instagram ads without quite depending on advertising tools.

Leveraging some sponsored ads:

Those companies using Instagram advertisement are always on rise. Even the numbers of advertisers is surpassing some of the popular social media platforms like that of Twitter previous year. These points give you reason to actually head for ways to gain more instagram followers these days.Apart from the fact that Instagram has strong 700 million base users, there are some other reasons to head towards this plan.

  • As Facebook and Instagram are connected, you can easily use FB advertising experience for targeting Instagram audience better.
  • Straight from budgeting to creating ads, you get the chance to manage everything about Instagram ads in FB ad manager.
  • These advertisements are non-intrusive and engaging, which will help gaining better conversion rate at lower cost.
  • You will have the creative freedom to use videos and images both for promoting service or product. These ads are quite hard to miss as they occupy the entire mobile device screen.

Partnering with targeted influencers:

If you are planning to reach out to potential customers on Instagram, you can try leveraging influencers already worked on ways to build an audience. With so many people and their being depended on Instagram based feed, it will always vital to get into a partnership with right influencers. It will definitely help your brand to be at the front of the list.

Instagram influencers are known to be power users, with loyal and large follower base that trusts recommendations. If you are planning on ways to make your influencer marketing campaign a successful notion on Instagram, you have to partner with influencers with great and highly relevant audience to product.

Once you know the best ways to use Instagram for marketing strategies, there is no need to look for other names in the market. You can easily use the Instagram skills to improve marketing strategies, resulting in a proper business growth. Just follow the marketing tips with utmost concentration.

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Cranes: Pros and Cons to Consider

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Cranes come in different forms, and they come with different functions as well. If you have a project and are thinking of hiring a crane, it’s essential that the crane you choose is the proper fit for your requirements. Making the wrong decision can result in time lost and financial resources wasted, after all. The first step to making the right decision is to learn about their different uses and functionalities. Here, then, is a look at the pros and cons of the various kinds of cranes.

A proper look at static cranes

Static cranes, as the name implies, are cranes that don’t really move, as confirmed by the experts in crane hire, www.aphcranes.co.uk. They are categorised by the fact that they remain in one place during the duration of use. Here are some examples:

  • The tower crane is fixed on the ground, but it can also be attached to a structure’s side. Tower cranes are used in tall building construction, and they are capable of lifting and loading the heaviest objects. They are the tallest crane available, although tower cranes are quite expensive and require a lot of time and effort to be installed.
  • The level luffing crane is equipped with a special feature – the hook of the crane is especially designed to stay at a level that is constant. Only the jib arm of the crane will be moved away or towards the crane’s base. The crane can be easily operated at a level that is fixed, and the materials can be more easily loaded with precision. One aspect to note, however, is that the crane requires more time when performing lifting movements.

A proper look at mobile cranes

The mobile crane has a telescopic boom which is attached to a platform. It comes in an array of sizes and shapes, and some of the most popular mobile cranes include the vehicle-mounted crane, the all-terrain crane, and the telescopic handler. Mobile cranes are quicker and easier to set up compared to static cranes, and they’re ideal for indoor jobs. They are also a cheaper alternative to static cranes, and are more flexible as well.

  • The truck-mounted crane is set up on a truck, and it is highly mobile. It can also be rotated to as much as 360 degrees, but it can often move quite slowly around a site.
  • The rough terrain crane is designed especially for rough or off-road surfaces, and this is one of its premier advantages. It is also a stable crane, and it can move effectively around different surfaces. One drawback to this crane, however, is that it cannot be taken on a public motorway.

It is in your best interest to properly consult with a crane hire service so they can give you expert advice on the best choice for your project.

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