Last year, Adidas filed a lawsuit against the label Thom Browne over its repeated use of a four stripes motif that allegedly “imitates” Adidas signature Three Stripes. Now, the New York City-based label has voiced not only its defense, but has also demanded that the sportswear giant loses its trademark for Three Stripes altogether.
Three stripes, you’re out — In the original complaint, Adidas accused Brown of taking advantage of the “extremely valuable goodwill” that Adidas has accumulated from “millions of dollars” of public promotion. It also accused the luxury label of expanding its product offerings from formal and business attire into athletic-style apparel and footwear and using its version of three stripe branding to “deceive” the market.
Browne’s answer, according to The Fashion Law, is complete with 18 affirmative defenses and a motion to request for the cancellation of three of Adidas’ Three Stripes trademark registration. While most brands sue on similar logo or likeness use from another label to prevent mistaken identity, Thom Browne states that the two operate in “entirely separate markets, at vastly different price points, and are not competitors.”
Lawyers for Browne also said Adidas should have took legal action a long time ago. Browne has been in business since 2009, and Adidas didn’t initiate the opposition until 2018. The delayed action adds to Browne’s defense against any liability, the lawyers argue. And, to add salt to the wound, they also go on to say that Adidas has “failed to police the market” on third-party use of stripes “in multiple variations and iterations, on clothing and footwear.”
Rodrigo Bazan, Browne’s CEO, told WWD last June that Adidas actually gave the luxury label permission to use striped branding for at least 12 years. Another spokesman for the brand agreed and said Adidas “in fact suggested that Thom add an additional stripe to reach four on the sleeves or the pants and that this would be OK by Adidas.”
No more playing nice — Adidas frequently finds itself in court as it pounces on any brand that uses striping in its branding — regardless of if it’s three or two or seven. According to a 2008 court filing, Adidas has had over 325 infringement cases — including 35 lawsuits and 45 settlements — over its Three-Stripe logo in the US since 1955. Payless Shoesource, Skechers, Forever 21, and even Tesla have felt the sportswear brand’s wrath.
Although the Adidas v. Thom Browne case is still ongoing, Browne’s resistance toward the complaint shows it won’t go down without a fight. It surely plans to earn its stripes.