Every sports fan recognises the three parallel stripes that are the logo for German sports apparel giant Adidas. Arranged in a triangular shape, they could be along the legs of tracksuit trousers, decorating the side of your trainers or draped over the bridge of a foot in adilette slides. The brand has created countless iconic items over the years.
In trademark cases however, the brand has faced problems in the past. Three stripes running in parallel to each other are not necessarily distinctive enough to be registered as one brand’s property. Another attempt by Adidas to broaden trademark protection for its three-stripes design in the European Union failed on Wednesday, June 19th, according to AP.
Only a few years back, fellow sports brand K-Swiss tried to trademark their logo, which is not dissimilar, with five stripes on the side of a shoe. The request was also deemed invalid due to the lack of distinctiveness.
A European Union high court has now ruled similarly against Adidas, which claimed that “three parallel equidistant stripes of equal width applied to the product in whichever direction” deserved trademark protection, Reuters reported.
The EU's General Court ruled that the company could not prove the stripes had a distinctive enough character throughout the European Union. Adidas said they were disappointed in the ruling and considering possible next options.
Three years ago, the same assessment was made by the EU's Intellectual Property Office, when it struck down the registration. The reasoning for the decision was based on the same argument: not distinctive enough throughout the bloc. The court backed the assessment.