adidas and Thom Browne Go to Court Over Three Stripes Trademark Dispute

adidas is seeking nearly $8 million USD in damages and profits from Browne.

Fashion
27,151 Hypes 18 Comments

On Tuesday, the ongoing legal battle between adidas and Thom Browne reached a new height, as both parties appeared in Manhattan’s Southern District Court. In front of Judge Jed Rakoff, attorneys for both brands presented their opening arguments to a jury, which will determine whether the luxury American designer’s striped designs violate adidas’ Three Stripes trademark, according to WWD.

The face-off dates back to June 2021, when adidas filed a trademark infringement and dilution complaint against Thom Browne, arguing that “despite Thom Browne’s knowledge of [its] rights in the famous three-stripe mark,” the New York design house “has expanded its product offerings far beyond [its] formal wear and business attire specialty.” The filing 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 alleges that Browne is reaping the benefits of the Three Stripes’ “widespread fame and tremendous public recognition” and “extremely valuable goodwill” that the brand has built through “millions of dollars” of promotional marketing.

While the widely-known Three Stripes serve as an “indicator of the origin of adidas’ goods” and have existed since “long before Thom Browne began distributing, marketing, promoting, offering for sale or selling” sportswear fronting similar motifs, adidas claimed that the designer’s work “imitates [its] three-stripe mark in a manner that is likely to cause consumer confusion and deceive the public regarding its source, sponsorship, association, or affiliation,” which, in turn, is “irreparably harming adidas’ brand and its extremely valuable [mark].”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by adidas Originals (@adidasoriginals)

adidas is seeking $867,225 USD in damages for would-be licensing fees and an additional $7 million USD in profits that it alleges the New York brand made from products with stripes, according to adidas’ attorney R. Charles Henn Jr. of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP via WWD.

In his opening statement on Tuesday, Henn said that adidas believes Browne purposely incorporated striped branding into its designs with the intention of drawing more attention to its sportswear category. He stated that the Three Stripes have been used in the U.S. since 1952 and disclosed that the company spends approximately $300 million USD per year on advertising and makes $3.1 billion USD in sales of products donning the signature icon.

Henn pointed to Browne’s partnership with FC Barcelona and the team’s top player, Lionel Messi, who was an adidas ambassador for 15 years, along with Browne’s work for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, a team with which he says adidas has had a “long relationship.” It’s important to note that Browne’s FC Barcelona partnership entailed off-the-field designs, and for the Cavaliers, he created custom-tailored ensembles, which players wore as they entered the 2018 NBA Playoffs through the arena’s tunnel.

The German sportswear label did acknowledge that it exists in a different market to Browne, but it still claims that the luxury label’s striped ensembles have led to consumer confusion. Browne initially used three stripes on varsity-inspired clothing items, and Henn stated that when adidas noticed its usage in 2007, the brand approached Browne’s then-CEO to change the logo to four stripes. Henn argued, citing a recent survey, that 26.9% of 2,400 consumers still mistake Browne’s striped items for adidas’ designs, regardless of the change.

In his rebuttal, Browne’s lawyer, Robert T. Maldonado of Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks P.C., pointed to that same agreement, in which Browne agreed to alter its branding to four stripes to avoid a lengthy lawsuit from adidas. Browne’s team believes that since adidas did not approach Browne from 2008, when the four stripes debuted on the runway, until its settlement negotiation in 2018, the excessively long wait is simply unfair. “Thom Browne doesn’t agree that a decade-long delay is acceptable,” Maldonado said.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Thom Browne (@thombrowne)

Further, Maldonado stated that Browne does not believe consumers have been misled by his usage of stripes, nor does he believe that adidas was harmed by his inclusion of them. He clarified that Browne has been making casual apparel for more than a decade and that the brand first released jersey sweatpants in 2009, sourcing inspiration from varsity style, not the German label. Additionally, he pointed to the fact that the two brands exist in two separate categories. “Thom Browne does not compete with Adidas,” he said. “Thom Browne is a luxury designer and adidas is a sports brand.”

He noted that if Browne were to halt its usage of the four stripes, the brand would see a significant impact on its business, which amounted to roughly $73 million USD in the third quarter of this year.

“Three stripes are not the same as four horizontal bars,” Maldonado said. “[adidas] fell asleep at the wheel and woke up too late.”

The lawsuit is the latest in a pile of legal battles that adidas has pursued over its Three Stripes, which has previously seen the sportswear label challenge brands including J. CrewJuicy CoutureTesla and Forever 21 for using designs that mildly resemble its trademark.

The trial is expected to conclude in two weeks. Browne and the brand’s CEO Rodrigo Bazan are expected to testify.

Elsewhere, Louis Vuitton opened a striking Yayoi Kusama pop-up store in Tokyo.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Adidas Takes Thom Browne Back to Court
Fashion

Adidas Takes Thom Browne Back to Court

The hearing is expected to center around the disclosure of four new emails that recently surfaced.

adidas Takes Thom Browne Back to Court and Pre-Fall 2024 Collections Debut in This Week’s Top Fashion News
Fashion

adidas Takes Thom Browne Back to Court and Pre-Fall 2024 Collections Debut in This Week’s Top Fashion News

Stay up to date on the latest industry headlines.

Thom Browne's Pre-Fall 2024 Collection Builds on His Classics
Fashion

Thom Browne's Pre-Fall 2024 Collection Builds on His Classics

With subtle adjustments to his coined tailoring, the designer expands his signature suiting universe.


Thom Browne and Baccarat Reveal Archive-Inspired Crystal Glass Collection
Design

Thom Browne and Baccarat Reveal Archive-Inspired Crystal Glass Collection

Featuring coupes, wine glasses, tumblers and whiskey carafes.

New U.S. Representative Robert Garcia Will Bring A Copy of 'Superman' #1 to His Swearing-In Ceremony
Entertainment

New U.S. Representative Robert Garcia Will Bring A Copy of 'Superman' #1 to His Swearing-In Ceremony

The comic book — which will be placed under the US Constitution and can sell for seven figures — came from the Library of Congress.

Nike Reinforces Its Air Max Scorpion With Protective Gaiters
Footwear

Nike Reinforces Its Air Max Scorpion With Protective Gaiters

Go crazy, gorpcore fans.

’Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” Gets Disney+ Debut Date
Entertainment

’Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” Gets Disney+ Debut Date

Arriving on February 1.

Skrillex Returns With "Rumble" Featuring Fred again.. and Flowdan
Music

Skrillex Returns With "Rumble" Featuring Fred again.. and Flowdan

The artist will drop another track featuring PinkPantheress and Trippie Redd on Thursday.

adidas NMD S1 Unveiled in "Triple White" and "Triple Black" Colorways
Footwear

adidas NMD S1 Unveiled in "Triple White" and "Triple Black" Colorways

The modern lifestyle silhouette gets cooked up with tonal, versatile presentations.


Mac DeMarco to Release Instrumental LP ‘Five Easy Hot Dogs’ Later This Month
Music

Mac DeMarco to Release Instrumental LP ‘Five Easy Hot Dogs’ Later This Month

Recording during a roadtrip across the U.S. and Canada.

New Balance 580 "Beef and Broccoli" Colorway Just Released
Footwear

New Balance 580 "Beef and Broccoli" Colorway Just Released

The lifestyle model gets cooked up with a delicious color palette.

Louis Vuitton Opens a Striking Yayoi Kusama Pop-Up Store in Tokyo
Fashion

Louis Vuitton Opens a Striking Yayoi Kusama Pop-Up Store in Tokyo

Complete with a massive, lifelike installation modeled after the Japanese contemporary artist.

Panasonic Debuts Two Hybrid Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras, the Lumix S5II and S5IIx
Tech & Gadgets

Panasonic Debuts Two Hybrid Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras, the Lumix S5II and S5IIx

Adding impressive video recording advancements to the popular S5.

Metro Boomin Drops Original Cut of Drake and 21 Savage’s “Knife Talk”
Music

Metro Boomin Drops Original Cut of Drake and 21 Savage’s “Knife Talk”

The song was initially created as a solo for 21 Savage.

More ▾
 
We got you covered. Don’t miss out on the latest news by signing up for our newsletters.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
We got you covered. Don’t miss out on the latest news by signing up for our newsletters.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.