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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.
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.