New York-based luxury brand Thom Browne has won a trademark infringement lawsuit against Adidas for its ‘three stripes’ trademark. A New York jury gave the final verdict that Thom Browne has never infringed the Adidas trademark.
A giant sports brand Adidas sued luxury brand Thom Browne in 2021 for infringing on its trademark “three stripes.” Since the filing of the lawsuit, the dispute over the trademark rights between the two companies had continued until early this month. Adidas’s lawyers argued that Thom Browne’s signature four stripes that feature on its designs “imitates” Adidas’s three-stripe branding and also claimed that the stripes are similar enough that consumers might confuse Thom Browne garments for its own products.
On January 3rd, both parties appeared at Manhattan’s Southern District Court in New York after an unsuccessful out-of-court settlement attempt.
Adidas had claimed that they spent about $300 million a year on advertising and generated $3.1 billion in sales for products bearing the ‘three stripes’ trademark. Based on that, the giant sports brand had requested Thom Browne for damages of $ 867,225 as a license fee and $ 7 million for products with 2 to 4 parallel lines and demanded an additional payment of the same amount.
However, Thom Browne’s attorney, Robert T. Maldonado, pointed out that Adidas unduly delayed the claim. In fact, the brand debuted in 2005 with a “three-stripes” design at first, then, the CEO of Adidas objected to the motif so Thom Browne agreed to stop using the motif in 2007. Instead of using “three-stripes”, the brand launched “Four Stripes” to avoid legal disputes without infringing on the Adidas trademark in the following year.
In addition, Robert T. Maldonado accused Adidas did not approach them at all between 2008 and 2018 when Thom Browne introduced items with a “four stripes” design on the runway show; “Excessively long lost time is unfair.” Adidas excused that it became aware of the alleged infringement in early 2018 when Thom Browne filed a trademark application for “grosgrain” with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in Europe. A lawyer for Adidas also stressed that “the company has no obligation to monitor Thom Browne’s work, and Adidas did not initially consider Thom Browne to be a direct competitor.”
Still, Thom Browne’s representatives had said they did not believe the use of the “four-stripes” would cause consumer confusion and did not believe Adidas was harmed because the two brands are in two completely different categories, price point, and market.
Following this final verdict, Thom Browne’s spokesperson said “We are pleased that the jury found that at no time did Thom Browne Inc. infringe on any of Adidas’ trademarks. For over 20 years now, Thom Browne has been a pioneering force in luxury fashion, bringing a wholly unique and distinctive design aesthetic that combines classic tailoring with American sportswear sensibilities. We look forward to continuing to design and provide the creative products that have become the hallmark of the Thom Browne label.” on the statement via WWD.
If Thom Browne loses the lawsuit and stops using the “four stripes”, it was said that there will be a loss equivalent to about $ 73 million in the third quarter of 2023. However, the case ended in their victory, so the brand must have been relieved.