March 29 (Reuters) – Sportswear manufacturer Adidas AG (ADSGn.DE) turned down Wednesday 48 hours after the request to the US Trademark Office to reject a Black Lives Matter application for a trademark with three parallel stripes.
“Adidas will withdraw its opposition to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s trademark application as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.
A source close to the company said the quick turnaround was prompted by concerns that people might misinterpret the Adidas trademark objection as a criticism of Black Lives Matter’s mission.
Adidas had told the trademark office in a Monday filing that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s yellow-stripe design is so similar to its own famous three-stripe mark that it is “likely to cause confusion.”
It tried to block the group’s application to use the design on goods the German sportswear manufacturer also sells, such as shirts, hats and bags.
Adidas is struggling financially after ending the lucrative Yeezy shoe partnership with Kanye West over anti-Semitic comments he made on social media and in interviews.
The sportswear company has also ended the Ivy Park collaboration with Beyoncé, according to media reports. Adidas’ contract with the pop star expires at the end of this year.
“MAY CAUSE CONFUSION”
Adidas said in the filing that it has been using its logo since 1952 and that the Black Lives Matter design could cause confusion, leading customers to believe their goods are linked or come from the same source.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is the most prominent entity in the decentralized Black Lives Matter movement, which emerged a decade ago in protest of police brutality against black people.
The group filed for a federal trademark in November 2020 for a yellow three-stripe design for use on a variety of products, including apparel, publications, bags, bracelets, and mugs.
Representatives of the Black Lives Matter group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Since 2008, Adidas has filed more than 90 lawsuits and signed more than 200 settlement agreements related to the three-stripe trademark, according to court documents from a lawsuit the company filed against designer Thom Browne’s fashion house.
A jury in that case ruled in January that Thom Browne’s stripe patterns did not infringe Adidas’ trademark rights.
Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington; Additional reporting by Helen Reid in London; Edited by David Gregorio, David Holmes and Christina Fincher
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.