January 2018. Adidas has failed to halt the registration of a clothing brand logo consisting of a blue and red stripe combination. On 10 January, the Opposition Division of the European Trademark Office EUIPO concluded that the three-stripe trademark on which adidas based its infringement suit was insufficiently similar to the new trademark being applied for by Belgian footwear company Shoe Branding Europe BVBA.
Left: Shoe Branding’s logo; right: the adidas registrations
In its opposition, adidas produced a large number of trademarks featuring vertical white lines against a black background, including an international registration for stripes (centre) and a Spanish national registration (right).
Number of stripes
According to EUIPO, both Shoe Branding’s logo and adidas’ trademark consist of nothing more than a cluster of simple geometrical elements. The visual impact of the two logos is, however, not the same: not only are the thickness and colour of the stripes different in each case, so is the number of stripes used. EUIPO concluded that this last element in particular was crucial.
It therefore ruled that the trademarks were not similar, which brought adidas’ entire case crashing down. After all, even its claim that its three-stripe trademark was internationally known doesn’t cut any ice if the conclusion is that the trademarks simply don’t look like each other. Shoe Branding was therefore told it could go ahead with the registration.
The champagne corks must have been popping at Shoe Branding given that on the very same day – 10 January 2018 – the company was told it had won a second opposition suit. Another company, Aulbach Lizenz AG, had also filed an opposition to Shoe Branding’s logo. And once again EUIPO had concluded that the two trademarks were insufficiently similar, stating that the shape, colour and in this case the position of the two logos were different.
Shoe Branding’s logo, and right: Aulbach Lizenz’ older trademark