Adidas fails to extend three-stripe trademark in the EU

Joseph Simmons Darryl Mc Daniels and Jam Master Jay of the hip-hop group

Joseph Simmons Darryl Mc Daniels and Jam Master Jay of the hip-hop group"Run DMC pose for a portrait session wearing Adidas sweat suits in front of the Empire State Building in May 1985 in New York New York

Adidas AG lost a European Union court fight for broader trademark protection of its iconic three-stripe logo.

The three-stripe logo, which was first registered in August 1949 by founder Adolf "Adi" Dassler, was ruled to not have enough "distinctive character" to qualify for the trademark, the EU's General Court ruled on Wednesday.

To widen the trademark, Adidas needed to show that three parallel stripes, regardless of direction on the product, had acquired a "distinctive character" throughout the EU.

Adidas said it was disappointed by the call, which had its roots in a legal challenge by a Belgian shoe company that failed to secure trademark status for a similarly simple two-stripe design previous year.

Adidas can still appeal to the European Court of Justice.

The trademark was challenged by Belgium's Shoe Branding Europe after a decade-long dispute with Adidas.

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But David Haigh, chief executive of consultancy Brand Finance, said Wednesday's ruling could erode the value of the Adidas brand, now worth $US14.3 billion ($20.7 billion).

On 19 June 2019, the EU General decided a case about the validity of Adidas' EU trade mark registration for three stripes.

The ruling "does not impact on the broad scope of protection that Adidas has on its well-known 3-Stripe mark in various forms in Europe", the company said. According to the courts, there is a "normal figurative mark".

Meyer-Dulheuer could not recall a setback of this magnitude for Adidas in a trademark decision.

Adidas said it was disappointed in the ruling. In other cases involving the big sporting goods players, Nike a year ago filed a lawsuit accusing German rival Puma of using patented athletic shoe technology without authorisation.

Its latest effort to protect those three stripes, however, came up short in a surprising European court decision yesterday, a ruling that could complicate the company's marketing efforts around the world.

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