Adidas wins in stripes ruling

Adidas appears to have bolstered protection of its three-stripe trademark today, following a decision by the European Court of Justice.

Adidas could now prevent companies from using as few as two stripes on products, because consumers associate stripes with the Adidas brand.

The finding gives powers to national courts to rule in favour of Adidas if they judge that consumers in individual countries tend to confuse striped branding with the Adidas trademark.

The court surmised that, ‘The likelihood of confusion is the specific condition of the protection conferred by the trade mark… The Court has defined that condition as the risk that the public might believe that the goods or services in question come from the same undertaking [Adidas]’.

The case follows a 2003 European Court of Justice ruling against Adidas. The sportswear brand subsequently appealed the decision, which initially favoured Dutch retailer Fitnessworld.

An Adidas spokeswoman says, ‘From the press release issued by the European Court of Justice it appears to us that the decision is favourable to the Adidas Group. We are waiting for the full court decision to be able to comment further.’

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