Adidas & Thom Browne Fight It Out In Court Over Stripes Trademark

Adidas & Thom Browne Fight It Out In Court Over Stripes Trademark

January 6, 2023
Dom Challis

Adidas have taken fashion house Thom Browne to court, where the two companies are currently facing off in a New York court following Adidas’ claims that Thom Browne’s use of parallel lines on its clothing infringes the sportswear giants “Three Stripes.”

The jury trial began on Tuesday 3 January at Manhattan’s Southern District Court. The case follows a 2021 lawsuit where Adidas argued that Thom Browne is trying to ‘imitate’ the sportswear label’s decades-old branding.

Thom Browne himself attended court wearing a pair of his signature four-striped socks (found below). Browne had initially released a three-striped design, named the “Three-Bar Signature,” in 2005. 

Court documents state that Thom Browne agreed to stop using the motif after Adidas reached out to the label’s CEO at the time regarding the matter two years later.

A few years later in 2008, Browne debuted his “Four-Bar Signature,” a four stripe motif that featured on a range of items such as jackets, activewear, and even neckties. 

Adidas is also arguing about the use of Thom Browne‘s “Grosgrain Signature,” a red, white and blue design that Adidas claims consists of three stripes. On the other hand, Thom Browne argued in court papers that it contains five, as it’s a white-red-white-blue-white design.

In its lawsuit filing, Adidas argued that Thom Browne‘s striped motifs is likely to cause consumer confusion and deceive the public. The sportswear giants have been using the three stripes since their founder, Adolf Dassler, featured the design on a pair of spiked running shoes in 1949.

Thom Browne‘s lawyers have pointed out that Adidas took an unreasonable delay in making their claims. Court documents state that products featuring the “Four-Bar Signature” were first sold in 2009 and displayed at the brand’s flagship New York store from 2010.

Adidas claims they only became aware of the alleged infringement in 2018, when Thom Browne tried to trademark the “Grosgrain Signature” in Europe. This is because Adidas claims they didn’t consider Thom Browne a direct competitor and they had no duty to monitor the fashion house.

While court documents show the parties unsuccessfully attempted to reach an out-of-court settlement, I can already see this case taking some time to resolve.

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