Adidas not happy with J. Crew Trademark application

Adidas has recently filed a request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in an attempt to shut down American multi-brand speciality retailer J. Crew’s application for a trademark containing five stripes. Adidas have taken major issues with this, as they believe J. Crew’s stripes are too close for comfort to its classic three-stripe branding. Stating that J. Crew “incorporates three stripes in a manner that is confusingly similar to Adidas’s three-stripe mark in appearance and overall commercial impression.” Their main gripe being over fears that J. Crew will apply the stripes to products like shoes and T-shirts. Which they deem to be potentially too confusing and similar for their liking, and thus why we find ourselves reporting on an Adidas J.Crew Lawsuit.

How similar are the J. Crew five stripes to the Adidas Three Stripes?

On the face of it, it actually appears that the two designs are very much different from one another. Adidas’ infamous Three Stripes are as the name suggests three parallel stripes. Whereas the J. Crew trademark application is for a pattern that contains five stripes of varying widths in ivory, navy and burgundy. Despite this clear aesthetic disparity Adidas still insists that “consumers familiar with the goods and services long associated with [its] three-stripe mark are likely to assume that the goods and services offered under [J. Crew] originate from the same source, or that they are affiliated, connected, or associated with [adidas].”

Adidas J. Crew Lawsuit

Adidas J. Crew Lawsuit

Adidas have actually had a trademark specifically for three stripes dating as far back 1952. Looking like they have no plans of backing down against this particular variation from J.Crew. Even though the American retailer is widely known for its preppy use of striped patterns the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (TTAB) agreed to suspend the matter for 60 days allowing the two brands to duke it out away from the courtroom. However, if there is no conclusion within the next two months, the TTAB will begin overseeing the dispute again.

adidas History of Trademark Lawsuits

To give some context, Adidas are no strangers to fighting for its stripes. Unfortunately for them, unlike a more unmistakable logo, the water gets murkier when attempting to claim classic patterns like stripes. Past lawsuits and cease and desist letters against brands like Forever 21, Sketchers and even Tesla have really made people ponder whether or not stripes can be legally claimed. Forever 21 even filed a lawsuit of its own against Adidas in 2017, stating that the many cease and desist letters it received from Adidas “essentially assert that no item of clothing can have any number of stripes in any location without infringing Adidas’s trademarks.” A very good point indeed…

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