Adidas dealt new trademark blow in EU court
Adidas, the German sportswear giant, has today lost a ruling in the European Union court to trademark its famous three-stripe logo as it was deemed invalid and lacked a ‘distinctive character’.
The EU court upheld a 2016 ruling by the European Intellectual Property Office to annul a previous decision to accept the trademark.
Adidas needed to prove that the three stripes had a distinctive character throughout the 28-member EU, which was required to qualify for legal protection.
Adidas registered the trademark in 2014 to cover clothing, footwear and headgear, stating that it consists of “three parallel equidistant stripes of equal width applied to the product in whichever direction.”
However, according to the court, the brand had only produced evidence related to the use of the mark from five of the 28 member states.
The trademark was challenged by Shoe Branding Europe, the Belgium-based shoe company, following a long-running dispute with Adidas.
Shoe Branding purchased sportswear brand Patrick in 2008, which has always featured two stripes on its apparel and footwear since it was founded in 1892. Shoe Branding claims that Patrick is the oldest sports brand in Europe.
The same EU court had last year ruled that Shoe Branding’s own two-stripe symbol was invalid, stating that it was too similar to the stripes used by Adidas.
The court said in a statement today: "The general court of the EU confirms the invalidity of the Adidas EU trademark which consists of three parallel stripes applied in any direction.
"The mark is not a pattern mark composed of a series of regularly repetitive elements, but an ordinary figurative mark."
However, Adidas claims that the court’s ruling only affects one specific version of the logo.
In a statement, it said: "This ruling is limited to this particular execution of the three-stripe mark and does not impact on the broad scope of protection that Adidas has on its well-known three-stripe mark in various forms in Europe.
"Whilst we are disappointed with the decision, we are further evaluating it and are welcoming the useful guidance that the court will give us for protecting our three-stripe mark applied to our products in whichever direction in the future."
Adidas has the option to appeal the decision to the European Court of Justice.