"How many stripes am I holding up?" (or, "Adidas continues its trademark reign of terror...")

Posted by Charles Colman

When a brand purports to have trademark rights in three parallel stripes, one can imagine that it will have to file an awful lot of lawsuits to maintain an association in consumers' minds between the claimed mark and the requisite "single source" (i.e., the brand.)  But there's no need to use one's imagination, as Adidas makes this very claim, and is just about as litigious as a trademark owner can be.  For previous LAW OF FASHION posts on the ongoing three-stripe debate, see this, this, and this.

Now, Adidas has filed another lawsuit, this time against footwear company Wolverine, which owns (among other brands) Hush Puppies, CAT Footwear, and Merrell.  Apparently, Adidas does not have much faith in consumers, as its recent Complaint alleges a likelihood of confusion (one requirement for a successful trademark infringement claim) between its registered marks



and shoes with designs ranging from two

to four


to an indeterminate number

of stripes.  Leaving aside the potential aesthetic functionality issues here, is it really plausible to claim that the relevant consuming public can't tell two from three from four?  And if it is, in fact, plausible, what does that say about Adidas's customer base?

Read the full complaint in this case.  Please.  Then buy this book for a good explanation of why this "dispute," and the many others like it, provide cause for concern.

[This post is for entertainment and informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship among any individuals or entities.  Any views expressed in this post or at the linked web pages are those of the writer on a particular date, and should not necessarily be attributed to this writer, his law firm, or its clients.  Neither LAW OF FASHION nor any person or entity associated with it can warrant the thoroughness or accuracy of the content here or at the linked sites.]