In 2020, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which has described itself as a fundraising and grant-making entity of the Black Lives Matter movement, applied to trademark two designs for campaign and fundraising purposes. One request was for a design that the group used as a logo on its website, featuring the words “Black Lives Matter” above three yellow stripes. The second filing was to trademark the three yellow stripes design so it could be used for fundraising purposes on merchandise including mugs, apparel and bags.
Adidas had filed opposition to the second application on Monday, arguing that the foundation the three-stripe design was “confusingly similar” to Adidas’ own “Three-Stripe Mark” and likely caused “confusion, misrepresentation or mistake as to the association’s affiliation” with Adidas. Then it went down on Wednesday.
It is quite unusual for a trademark case to be dropped so quickly, Phillip Johnson, a professor of commercial law at Cardiff University, said in an interview. “Most likely, the decision to withdraw the case was for reputation management reasons and not the merit of the case.”
The company’s attempt to block the Black Lives Matter foundation from trademarking its logo led to confusion and criticism on social media some accused the company that believed it had “the eternal rights to straight lines” while joked another: “Three stripes and you are out, according to Adidas.”
Trademark experts were divided on the strengths of Adidas’ first case. “When you look at the difference in the color and shape of the stripes, I think Adidas is unlikely to win this case if it goes to court,” trademark attorney Josh Gerben wrote on Twitter.
However, Johnson noted that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s design of three parallel lines “could be argued to closely resemble Adidas’ registered trademark”. “Like most of the use of Adidas has been in relationship [to] clothing, it would be much more difficult for BLM to get the brand registered for clothing than for, say, charity fundraising or awareness campaigns,” he added.
Adidas has been involved in several trademark disputes over the years over the three-stripe design, which was registered by founder Adi Dassler in 1949.
For over a decade, Adidas tried to dissuade fashion designer Thom Browne from using stripes in his luxury designs, arguing that his striped designs were too similar to his own designs – even though his designs used a different number of stripes. In a January lawsuit in New York, which Adidas lost, Browne’s lawyers argued that stripes are a common design.
Adidas has also lost trademark battles in European courts over its three-stripe design, with Belgian company Shoe Branding Europe in 2019 and Dutch company Fitnessworld in 2003.
Since 2008, Adidas has filed more than 90 lawsuits and signed more than 200 settlement agreements related to the three-stripe trademark, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing court documents.
The Black Lives Matter movement has taken the world by storm since it was founded in 2013, with people around the world taking to the streets to show solidarity with black Americans in the face of police brutality and gun violence – as well as racial injustice across Europe. to emphasize and in other countries.
How the Black Lives Matter movement is sweeping the world
The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Adidas has had a turbulent few months. In October, the company had to cut ties with rapper and fashion designer Kanye West over anti-Semitic comments from him. Many criticized Adidas for being slower than other companies to cut ties with West, now known as Ye.
Earlier this month, Adidas warned it could suffer its first annual loss in decades amid the fallout from its now-defunct partnership with the disgraced musician, a rift that largely led to its $763 million loss in its fourth quarter. quarter, The Washington Post reported.
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