Three stripes are not an exclusive trademark of Adidas, court rules

Andrew Cummings
June 22, 2019

Sportswear giant adidas has failed in an attempt to expand its three-stripe trademark in the European Union after the organisation's general court ruled that the design was insufficiently "distinctive".

"In today's judgment, the General Court upholds the annulment decision, dismissing the action brought by adidas against the EUIPO decision", said the Court in a press release published yesterday.

This week an European Union court ruled the three stripes were an "ordinary figurative mark", allowing Belgian company Shoe Branding Europe to continue manufacturing products with three stripes.


The company, whose three-striped logo is already trademarked, can still appeal the decision and take it to the Higher Court of Justice of the EU.

The German sporting goods company has trademark protection for its slanted three-stripe logo. He predicted the ruling could open the floodgates to legal challenges against Adidas' claims it is the only sportswear brand entitled to the three-stripes design.

But David Haigh, chief executive of consultancy Brand Finance, said Wednesday's ruling could erode the value of the Adidas brand, now worth $US14.3 billion ($20.7 billion). One New York designer, Thom Browne, changed a line of suits to have three stripes instead of four after Adidas sued him.


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

Adidas had not proved the motif had acquired a "distinctive character" throughout the 28 countries of the bloc that would qualify for legal protection, the court said.

"It's a setback for Adidas, but it shouldn't be the end of their three stripes trademark", Glas said. Adidas said it's disappointed with this week's decision but believes it to be of limited scope in Europe.


Shares in German company Adidas were down 1.8% following the ruling.

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