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EU court rules against Adidas trademark

June 19, 2019

The German company will not be allowed to trademark three stripes next to each other, Europe's second-highest court has ruled. The court called it "an ordinary figurative mark."

A man holds up a pair of Adidas shoes with its three-stripes trademark
Image: picture-alliance/PYMCA/Photoshot/B. Anwar

The General Court of the European Union on Wednesday backed a decision by EU intellectual property authorities that Adidas could not trademark three stripes.

The court said Adidas had failed to show that its trademark of parallel stripes was distinct enough in the minds of European consumers.

It said the company only provided evidence of its "acquired distinctive character" in five out of the EU's 28 member states. As such, the trademark "cannot, in the present case, be extrapolated to the entire territory of the EU."

"The mark is not a pattern mark composed of a series of regularly repetitive elements, but an ordinary figurative mark," the court said.

Read more: How Adidas promotes 'work-life balance'

Thomas Müller und Mesut Özil, football players on Germany's national team, stand next to each other
Adidas are one of the main sponsors of the German national football teamImage: picture-alliance/dpa/adidas

Appeal deadline

In 2014, EU intellectual property authorities approved of Adidas' three stripes trademark. However, the Belgium-based company Shoe Branding Europe challenged it, saying the trademark was not distinct enough.

Two years later, the EU Intellectual Property Office annulled Adidas' trademark, siding with the Belgian company's complaint.

The decision can still be appealed at the European Court of Justice, the EU's top court. However, Adidas only has two months to do so.

Read more: Berlin auctions off last pairs of public transit ticket sneakers on eBay

How Adidas promotes 'work-life balance'

ls/rt (dpa, Reuters)

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