Famously protective of its three stripe trademark, Adidas is once again taking on New York-based label Thom Browne with a suit filed in New York federal court on Monday (June 29, 2021). According to report by Fashion Law, Adidas stated in the suit that Thom Browne is aware of Adidas’ “famous three-stripe mark” and nonetheless had chosen to expand product offerings beyond the “formal wear and business attire specialty” it’s known for and is “now offering for sale and selling athletic-style apparel and footwear featuring two, three, or four parallel stripes in a manner that is confusingly similar to adidas’s three-stripe mark.”
In simple language, Adidas took special umbrage with Thom Browne, a label known for natty suits and ties, for selling sneaker and sport-inspired apparel detailed with two or four stripes placed in a way that was “confusingly similar” to Adidas’ three-stripe mark.
Thom Browne first entered Adidas’ radar when the U.S. brand entered into a partnership to create made-to-measure suits for Futbol Club Barcelona’s players, a partnership that began with the 2018-2019 season and is still in place. Throughout the collection, Browne makes use of four stripes whether on suit pant legs or socks.
At the time, Thom Browne filed in the European Union for a striped mark, which Adidas opposed. Subsequently, Adidas’ legal team began to investigate Thom Browne’s U.S. offerings and turned up “two- and four-stripe” marks. which in its view infringed on its trademark. At the time, Adidas stated that it attempted to negotiate a resolution with Thom Browne’s lawyers, but the exchange “proved fruitless.”
Adidas argued that Thom Browne’s association with a soccer team further heightens potential for confusion because of the German brand’s long held association with the sport. Notably, one of the Barcelona’s players is Lionel Messi, who wears Adidas footwear when he plays. The team’s uniforms are designed by Nike, which sponsors the team.
Following the dust up in Europe, in December 2020 Adidas filed an opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to three pending Thom Browned trademark applications for red, white, and blue striped trademarks for use on footwear,
Check out the the latest Thom Browne collection to inspire Adidas’ ire.