Adidas Wins Legal Battle Over Parallel Stripes

Always protect the brand.
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Eliza Brooke
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Always protect the brand.
A pair of Adidas sneakers. Photo: Georgie Wileman/Getty Images

A pair of Adidas sneakers. Photo: Georgie Wileman/Getty Images

While someone on Adidas's public relations team is no doubt dealing with the aftermath of Kanye West tweeting on Wednesday afternoon that the company is going to "hook y'all up with free Yeezys and Adidas" — I mean, unless that's true, @Adidas? — its European branch had some great news to share that same day. The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that Adidas can oppose the trademark registration of parallel stripes on the side of sports shoes produced by other brands.

This comes up because in 2009, a Belgian company called Shoe Branding Europe filed an application to register as a trademark the two forward slashes on the side of its shoes. While this design looks different enough from Adidas's trio of stripes when the two are placed side by side, it would be easy to mistake them for Adidas sneakers if you saw them on their own. For this reason, Adidas opposed the registration, but was dismissed on the basis that the two designs were significantly different. In May 2015, though, the General Court sided with Adidas's argument, stating that the marks were in fact not dissimilar enough. Because the stripes were parallel, equidistant, of the same width, contrasting with the base color of the shoe and set on the outside of the foot on both shoe styles, the "overall impression" was the same.

Photo: Court of Justice of the European Union

Photo: Court of Justice of the European Union

With this latest decision, the Court of Justice has upheld the General Court's stance. Not a bad day for Adidas's business — especially since it's allegedly agreed to give us all free Yeezys.