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Adidas loses three-stripe trademark case

The General Court of the European Union has ruled against Adidas in a case to extend its three-stripe trademark.

The court upheld an earlier decision by the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to annul a trade mark owned by Adidas, depicting “three parallel equidistant stripes of identical width, applied on the product in any direction”.

The General Court said the mark was “an ordinary figurative mark” and its colour scheme – black stripes against a white background –could not be taken into account.

Mark Caddle, trade mark attorney at European intellectual property firm Withers & Rogers, said: “This is a disappointing decision for Adidas, particularly after such as lengthy dispute. However, this is unlikely to be the end of the matter, and the company may choose to appeal the decision by taking it to the Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU).

“The General Court has made it clear that the mark is not distinctive enough. Adidas, so far, has failed to provide sufficient evidence to show that when seeing three stripes on clothing, footwear or headgear, consumers immediately associate such products with Adidas.”

Kate O’Rourke, partner and chartered trade mark attorney at Mewburn Ellis added: “The case reinforces the importance of filing the right evidence. In this case evidence of use of white stripes against a black background was used to try and maintain registration of black stripes against a white background. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was not sufficient to persuade the CJEU.

“Furthermore, it illustrates how critical it is to file trademark applications in the right category, with Adidas’ registration filed as a figurative mark and not a pattern mark.”

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