Stripes Don't Make for a Logo of Distinction, Court Decides

Adidas loses trademark case in Europe
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2019 6:15 PM CDT
Logo Doesn't Necessarily Say 'Adidas,' EU Court Rules
The logo of the sports goods manufacturer 'adidas' is pictured in Berlin, Germany, Monday, May 6, 2019.   (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The Adidas three-stripe logo is famous and many fans think it's cool, but it's just not distinctive enough to deserve trademark protection, an EU court ruled Wednesday. The decision upheld a ruling by the EU Intellectual Property Office, which had rejected Adidas' trademark application, saying the logo was "devoid of any distinctive character." The company disagrees; CBS notes that the company has a reputation for taking legal action against fashion designers who employ stripes. One New York designer, Thom Browne, changed a line of suits to have three stripes instead of four after Adidas sued him. Adidas said it's disappointed with this week's decision but believes it to be of limited scope in Europe.

The case is part of a back-and-forth battle between the German company and a Belgian one, Shoe Branding Europe, per the Guardian. A European trademark lawyer said Adidas "failed to provide sufficient evidence to show that when seeing three stripes on clothing, footwear or headgear, consumers immediately associate such products with Adidas." The design was first put on a football shoe in 1949 by the company's founder, Adi Dassler. (Nestle had a similar ruling on the KitKat.)

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