February 2018. Adidas has brought an action in Japan against a producer of pet clothing who wanted to register a logo featuring a three-bone trademark. Result? The tri-bones logo won’t enter the register.
Win at appeal
The Japan Patent Office initially concluded that the three-bones logo didn’t infringe adidas’ tri-band logo, but adidas eventually won on appeal.
According to the new ruling, the logos are very similar and the adidas trademark is also very well-known. What’s more, many sports item manufacturers extend their range to pet clothing. This presents a risk of confusion, so the three-bones trademark was refused.
The fact that the logo is a deliberate wink at the adidas original is shown by the fact that it often appears with the name ‘adidog’ below it. The company had initially tried to register the word adidog in combination with the three bones but withdrew the application in 2008, presumably after adidas objected.
Caution advised, except in the US
You should always be careful when playing around with well-known trademarks. On the other hand, in the US – where freedom of expression is almost unlimited – you can often get away with it. For instance, a US court was happy to let the company Haute Diggity Dog use the name Chewy Vuitton for a plush toy for dogs. That gave them something to chew on!
A US court allowed Chewy Vuitton to be used as a trademark; other names that play on familiar brands include Starbarks and Americanine Express