Adidas has been successful in yet another stage of its journey to block its trainer rival, Shoe Branding, from registering two stripes on a plain trainer as an EU trade mark.

Adidas has an earlier trade mark for three stripes which slant in the opposite direction (see above). Although consumers would be unlikely to be confused as to the origin of the goods (in part because Adidas is so well known!) the EU General Court agreed that if it was allowed onto the trade mark register, the two stripe trade mark would create a likelihood that members of the public would link two stripes on a trainer with the existing three stripes.  

The court considered that this would both take unfair advantage of the huge brand value that Adidas has created in its three stripes and damage Adidas’ reputation.   

Consequently, the two stripe mark was denied registration. Shoe Branding has one final appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union. However, the message should be pretty clear by now – whether it is two stripes or three, Adidas dominates stripey shoes in addition to stripes on clothing (as was the case in Adidas v Marca Mode where it prevented H&M and others from using two stripes on tracksuits)!

This is not the first time Shoe Branding’s two stripe mark has been through the EU courts. Back in 2015 the General Court noted that the marks were similar and sent the dispute back to the EU IPO for further consideration. Given that the mark was applied for in 2009, this is unlikely to be the last we hear of the issue.


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