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Adidas sues Thom Browne for use of stripes

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Adidas Three-Stripe Mark vs Thom Browne

Adidas has launched a legal suit against New York designer Thom Browne, in its latest battle of pursuing ownership of three stripes.

In a complaint filed in New York on Monday, the German sporting goods giant said: “Despite Thom Browne’s knowledge of Adidas’s rights in the famous Three-Stripe Mark, Thom Browne has expanded its product offerings far beyond its formal wear and business attire and is now offering for sale and selling athletic-style apparel and footwear featuring two, three, or four parallel stripes in a manner that is confusingly similar to adidas’s Three-Stripe Mark.”

Adidas iterated it began using its three stripes logo as far back as 1952 on footwear sold in the USA and on garments since 1967. It was granted a federal trademark in 1994 for the use of stripes on its footwear.

Thom Browne launched his luxury label twenty years ago, initially focused on tailoring and his trademark cropped silhouette, particularly the grey wool suit. The company is currently majority-owned by Italy’s Ermenegildo Zegna Group, who will be keen to push the brand’s high-end sporty ranges, which have to date shown great commercial success. Browne’s four stripes logo often adorns the left sleeve on sweatshirts or the left thigh of joggers and bottoms. It is only in recent seasons that Thom Browne began using the stripes on sneakers.

Adidas has pursued many a trademark battle

Adidas has a litigious past when it comes to protecting its stripes, and previously launched complaints against J. Crew, Forever 21, Sketchers and even Tesla.

Adidas in its latest complaint asks the New York court to “permanently enjoin Thom Browne from distributing, marketing or selling apparel and footwear using or bearing confusingly similar imitations of the Adidas Three-Stripe Mark.” The company is further asking for monetary damages and requests Thom Browne to disgorge all of its profits from its sales of the alleged infringing sportswear.”

Ermenegildo Zegna
Thom Browne