The General Court of EU has termed Adidas’ EU trademark of “three parallel equidistant stripes of identical width, applied on the product in any direction” as invalid.
Echoing a previous decision of the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the court ruled that the trade mark does not constitute a distinctive mark throughout the EU and hence cannot be qualified for legal protection.
In 2016, after an application was filed by the Belgium based Shoe Branding Europe, declaring Adidas’s three parallel stripes trademark as invalid, EUIPO annulled the registration of the mark, as it did not have a distinctive character, both inherent and acquired through use.
Adidas failed to establish that the mark acquired distinctive character through use throughout the EU.
The General Court’s judgment has upheld the annulment decision of EUIPO.
According to the court, the mark is not a pattern composed of a series of regularly repetitive elements but just “an ordinary figurative mark”.
The judgment also stated that “the forms of use which fail to respect the other essential characteristics of the mark, such as its colour scheme (black stripes against white background), cannot be taken into account.
“Therefore, EUIPO was correct to dismiss numerous pieces of evidence produced by Adidas on the ground that they concern other signs, such as, in particular, signs for which the colour scheme had been reversed – white stripes against black background.”
Adidas submitted market surveys that showed customers linked the brand with the three stripes. However, according to the court, those studies were only carried out in five European countries and cannot, in the current case, be extended to the complete territory of the EU.
The firm can file an appeal against the verdict with the Higher Court of Justice of the EU.