The Adidas Trap-Check Your Pitch Does Not Echo An Ordinary Figurative Mark

A long-running retail intellectual property dispute made headlines this week.

A brand that long ago (including with their 80s Patrick football boots) used two stripes as their branding, objected to Adidas trying to expand the scope of their three-striped design overlay. The ruling found against the global sporting goods giant;

“The general court of the EU confirms the invalidity of the Adidas EU trademark, which consists of three parallel stripes applied in any direction. The mark is not a pattern mark composed of a series of regularly repetitive elements, but an ordinary figurative mark.”

The company had failed to prove their motif had a “distinctive character”.

So it seems that not only are you unable to ‘own’ a number of stripes down an arm or leg, you now cannot emblazon them anywhere else with any protection either.

I remember well over twenty years back, first visiting a vast self-styled factory-shop zone of a major Asian city. I marvelled at how you could binge on Adidas-type apparel albeit featuring only a couple, rather than a triple, of stripes across the shoulders. At a fraction of the price, yet seemingly the exact same thread count, stitching and design literacy, they were too good to leave on the peg. I realise today I still wear a garment from that trip.

There is a brief commercial Sales note from this.

Is your pitch in reality little more than mere “ordinary figurative mark”?

Are you using standard, ubiquitous, indistinct labels?

Lacking distinctive character?

Causing a prospect to shoulder-shrug, akin to thinking, “three parallel equidistant stripes of equal width “is nothing special?

Are you noting that and building upon “even a slight variation could produce a significant alteration to the characteristics”?

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