EU court rules that Adidas may defend its three stripes design

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Sang Nkhwazi

Sang is a Patent & Trade Marks Representative & Director of Franks & Co Mancunium Ltd, a firm of European Patent & Trade Marks Attorneys based in Cheadle, Stockport. The firm advises on the protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and assists with the procedures involved in obtaining protection for inventions, trade marks, designs and artistic works. You can contact him on 0161 820 2891 or email
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The General Court of the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that German sporting goods manufacturer Adidas (HQ: Herzogenaurach, Germany) may oppose the registration of EU trade mark applications depicting two parallel stripes on shoes,  affirming earlier decisions by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

Belgian company Shoe Branding Europe had in 2009 and 2011 applied for two EU trademarks for two parallel stripes on shoes, one for footwear and the other for safety footwear. Adidas opposed the applications as it considered them too similar to its own iconic three-stripe design.The EU IPO refused to register both marks in separate decisions in 2015 and 2016.

Trade mark sought to be registered by Shoe Branding Europe


In the present judgement, the General court ruled on Thursday to confirm the decision of the EUIPO that parallel stripes on footwear would be confusingly similar adidas’ mark. The judgement said:

given  a  certain  degree  of  similarity  between  the  marks  at issue,  the  identity or  the  similarity between  the  goods  covered  by  those  marks  and  the high reputation of adidas’ earlier mark, there was a likelihood that the relevant public might establish a link  between  the  marks  at  issue  and  that  the  use  of  the  marks applied  for  could  take  unfair advantage of the reputation of adidas’ mark,

According to the Court, EUIPO did not commit an error of assessment in finding  that the use of the marks applied for would take unfair advantage of the reputation of adidas’ mark and that Shoe Branding Europe had not demonstrated the existence of due cause for the use of the marks applied for.

You can read the whole verdict here.