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Adidas suffers trademark setback in EU court

Sportswear giant adidas has failed in an attempt to expand its three-stripe trademark in the European Union after the organisation’s general court ruled that the design was insufficiently “distinctive”.

The ruling concerns a long-running case that centres on a dispute between adidas and Shoe Branding Europe.

Five years ago, adidas was granted a trademark on “three parallel equidistant stripes of identical width, applied on the product in any direction” on clothing, hats and shoes. However, in 2016, Shoe Branding Europe applied to the intellectual property office of the EU to have the trademark quashed.

The court ruled yesterday (Wednesday) that adidas did not “prove that that mark has acquired, throughout the territory of the EU, distinctive character following the use which had been made of it”.

An appeal can be submitted by adidas to the European Court of Justice, although the company is understood to be considering its options.

The company said it was “disappointed” with the ruling, but added: “This ruling is limited to this particular execution of the three-stripe mark and does not impact on the broad scope of protection that adidas has on its well-known three-stripe mark in various forms in Europe.”

The sportswear provider’s three-stripe design was first registered by the company’s founder, Adolf Dassler, in 1949.