Adidas three-stripe trademark invalid — European Union court

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

The General Court of the European Union ruled that the German company's trademark was not valid.

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.

Its decision upheld a 2016 ruling by the EU's intellectual property regulator cancelling the registration of.

Sporting goods brands have seen a rise in trademark disputes recently.

After today's rejection, the brand can still take its appeal to the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice.

The validity of the trademark was called into question by Shoe Branding Europe, which filed an appeal with the EUIPO for a declaration of invalidity on the basis that the mark lacked "any distinctive character, both inherent and acquired through use".

The three-stripe logo was first registered by founder Adi Dassler on a football boot on 18 August 1949, but the court said it was not sufficient to identify the products as originating from Adidas.

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The trademark in dispute is for a figurative mark which consists of "three parallel equidistant stripes of identical width, applied on the product in any direction".

The General Court of the European Union said on Wednesday that the design was an ordinary figurative mark.

An EU court rendered Shoe Branding's two-stripe trademark invalid a year ago, saying the stripes were too similar to the Adidas trademark.

The court considered the simplistic nature of the trademark, inversion of the colour scheme and promotional images cited as evidence by Adidas showing sloping stripes, before rejecting this second claim in its entirety.

It noted that the ruling is limited to the use of the stripes regardless of their direction and positioning on a product - adding that the stripes still enjoy a "broad scope of protection" in a range of different forms throughout the bloc.

In 2017, Adidas lost another legal battle where it tried to block Skechers from selling athletic sneakers that it said copied its "Springblade" concept.


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