Some will know the skater brand Vans from the past. Some will still wear these shoes today. The Vans brand has been around for years.
In addition to the name, companies are increasingly using product features as a way to differentiate themselves. In the case of Vans, these are the thick soles and the black and white checks.
Companies also want to protect these kinds of elements. Unfortunately, this is not so simple. Whereas traditional distinguishing elements such as a name or logo are generally easier to protect (as a trademark and sometimes as a design), this is a lot harder for other characteristics. Monopolizing the concept of black and white checks for shoes? That's not possible. What is possible is to indicate very precisely the position of the distinguishing elements that are eligible for protection, the so-called position mark. These elements must of course be distinctive and different from other products. Think for example of the red tag on Levi's jeans.
Vans recently filed such a position mark in the European Union. So the concept of a shoe with black and white checks is not claimed, but these checks in a specific place (the sole). Whether the EUIPO will accept this application remains to be seen. In this respect Vans has been more unsuccessful than successful in view of earlier applications. Nevertheless, it is pleasing to Vans that they are doing everything they can to protect their distinctive features.