One of the largest sportswear manufacturers in the world, Adidas has initiated a legal battle with Thom Browne, an American luxury fashion house over trademark violation. The former has claimed that Browne’s use of parallel stripes infringes the copyright of its signature three-stripe branding.
According to reports, Adidas filed a lawsuit against Browne, two years ago, in June 2021 citing that the latter’s four-stripe designs are “confusingly similar” to its three-stripe mark and violate the company’s trademark. It argued that “despite Thom Browne’s knowledge of [its] rights in the famous three-stripe mark,” the fashion house “has expanded its product offerings far beyond [its] formal wear and business attire speciality.” It claimed that Browne is now “selling athletic-style apparel and footwear featuring two, three or four parallel stripes in a manner that is confusingly similar to Adidas’ three-stripe mark.”
Adidas also claimed that Browne was profiting from its similarity with the brand’s logo and getting the “widespread fame and tremendous public recognition and extremely valuable goodwill” which Adidas has built through “millions of dollars” of promotional marketing.
Women’s Wear Daily quoted Adidas’ attorney R Charles Henn Jr of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP saying that Adidas is seeking $867,225 USD in damages for would-be licensing fees and an additional $7 million USD in profits that the New York-based brand allegedly made from products with stripes.
Adidas is popular for its three-stripe design since 1949 after founder Adolf Dassler first featured it on a pair of spiked running shoes.
According to a CNN report, “Lawyers representing Thom Browne have meanwhile argued that Adidas exercised unreasonable delay in asserting its claims. Court documents say products featuring the “Four-Bar Signature” were first sold in 2009 and were displayed on items of activewear at the fashion brand’s flagship New York store from 2010. The sportswear giant claims it only became aware of the alleged infringement in early 2018, when Thom Browne applied to trademark the “Grosgrain Signature” (often referred to as Signature Grosgrain on the brand’s website) in Europe. Adidas’ lawyers argue that the company had no duty to monitor Thom Browne’s output and did not initially consider the label to be a direct competitor.”