Adidas loses EU court battle over 'three stripe' design

Marco Green
June 19, 2019

Adidas said its trademark consisted of "three parallel equidistant stripes of equal width applied to the product in whichever direction".

German sportswear giant Adidas on Wednesday lost a legal battle to trademark its "three stripes" motif in the European Union, as a court ruled the design was not distinctive enough to deserve protection.

It said the company only provided evidence of its "acquired distinctive character" in five out of the EU's 28 member states.

The sportswear giant's trademark on three slanted bands doesn't apply to stripes going vertically, horizontally or other directions, the EU General Court in Luxembourg ruled on Wednesday.

Shireen Peermohamed, a partner in the intellectual property team at law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said: "The General Court's decision emphasises the rigour that is needed when it comes to proving that a mark like this has acquired the necessary degree of recognition as a brand belonging to a particular company".

"The mark is not a pattern mark composed of a series of regularly repetitive elements, but an ordinary figurative mark".

Adidas said in a statement it was "disappointed" with the ruling, but said it only applied to one specific version of the motif - three thick black lines in parallel separated by two thinner white lines.

The bloc's highest court said in a statement that Adidas could appeal against the Wednesday's decision to the European Court of Justice.

However, the Belgium-based company Shoe Branding Europe challenged it, saying the trademark was not distinct enough.

The sporting goods industry has seen a rise in trademark and patent disputes as the biggest players try to differentiate their products and justify premium pricing.

Adidas said it was disappointed with the ruling, noting that the decision would only affect a particular use of the famous symbol.

In other cases involving the big sporting goods players, Nike past year filed a lawsuit accusing German rival Puma of using patented athletic shoe technology without authorization.

In 2017 a US judge rejected Adidas' effort to block Skechers from selling athletic sneakers that it said copied its "Springblade" concept.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article