Adidas's three-stripe trademark invalid: European Union court

Adidas's three-stripe trademark invalid: European Union court

The General Court of the European Union has deemed that adidas' iconic Three Stripes can not be trademarked in Europe, Deutsche Welle reports.

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.

The court said the mark was not a pattern but an "ordinary figurative mark" and it was not relevant to take into account specific uses involving colors.

Adidas needed to show the mark had acquired a "distinctive character" throughout the European Union based on its use, to the point that consumers inherently knew an Adidas product and could distinguish it from another company's products.

It thus upheld a decision of the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in 2016 to annul a previous decision to accept the trademark.

The court said in a statement: "The General Court of the EU confirms the invalidity of the Adidas EU trade mark which consists of three parallel stripes applied in any direction".

Sporting goods brands have seen a rise in trademark disputes recently. "The mark is ubiquitous across Adidas' various products, and it has very strong global recognition, evidenced by billions of dollars of sales of products bearing the mark".

The General Court of the European Union found that the sports brand could not show that the stripes had a "distinctive character" throughout the EU.

The ruling is the latest round in a long legal tussle between Adidas and Belgian rival Shoe Branding Europe, which won trademark status for a two-stripe design, triggering court action from the German firm.

Adidas also filed filed a lawsuit in 2015 against design house Marc Jacobs for using the three stripes in its Fall/Winter 2014 collection, demanding the company cease all sales of the offending garments.

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 that case, the court found that Shoe Branding's stripes were confusingly similar to Adidas' two-stripe trademark, and blocked the registration.

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

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