Adidas has lost a court case in which it attempted to prevent a fashion designer from using a four-stripe design. The sportswear giant claimed that the four stripes of luxury brand Thom Browne Inc were too similar to its three stripes.
Browne contended that shoppers were unlikely to mix up the two brands because, among other things, his had fewer stripes. Adidas had planned to seek more than $7.8 million in damages, but a New York jury sided with Browne.
Browne’s designs frequently include four horizontal, parallel stripes encircling the arm of a garment or – as seen on the designer himself – a sock.
Adidas’ designs frequently feature three stripes.
Browne’s legal team portrayed him as the underdog going up against a massive corporation, arguing that the two brands catered to different customers.
Thom Browne Inc’s creations are not dominated by sportswear, and its target market is wealthy customers; for example, a pair of women’s compression leggings costs £680, while a polo shirt costs £270.
Browne’s attorneys also claimed that stripes are a common design element.
While Adidas filed a lawsuit in 2021, the two companies have been at odds for more than 15 years.
Adidas complained in 2007 when Thom Browne used a three-stripe design on jackets. Browne agreed to discontinue its use and added a fourth stripe.
Thom Browne Inc has grown rapidly since then, and is now sold in over 300 stores worldwide. In recent years, the company has focused on creating more athletic wear.
The brand’s fan base is diverse. It designed rapper Cardi B’s Met Gala outfit in 2019, and former professional footballer and Bournemouth manager Scott Parker wore one of its cardigans and a blazer to matches.
A spokesperson for Adidas said the company was disappointed but will “continue to vigilantly enforce our intellectual property, including filing any appropriate appeals”.
Thom Browne Inc. was pleased with the outcome, according to a spokesperson. The designer told the Associated Press that he hoped the case would inspire others whose work is being challenged by larger corporations.
“It was important to fight and tell my story,” he said.
According to court documents, Adidas has launched more than 90 court battles and signed more than 200 settlement agreements involving its trademark since 2008.
(Adapted from MoneyControl.com)