US sports apparel maker NIKE has secured a partial victory in its dispute over stripes in its designs with rival company adidas in Germany

The 20th Civil Senate of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court partially amended a previous ruling and decided that Nike can use the stripe pattern on some of its trouser designs. 

The court has prohibited Nike from offering only one of the five pairs of trousers involved in the dispute within Germany. 

The Duesseldorf Regional Court had previously prohibited Nike Retail from offering and advertising five specific pairs of sports trousers with a two or three-stripe pattern on the outer seam, following a trademark violation lawsuit filed by adidas in 2022. 

The ruling was appealed by Nike, which contended that adidas’ claims over the three-stripe design were excessively restrictive and that striped decorations are not inherently indicative of a single brand.  

adidas is known for its three parallel stripes trademark, which it vigorously defends in courts worldwide.  

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However, the 20th Civil Senate stated: “It is undisputed that adidas brands its sportswear with three vertical stripes of equal width on the sides, each one equidistant from the other. The relevant public is used to this and sometimes sees it as a reference to adidas. However, this does not mean that every stripe pattern on the side, regardless of its specific design or the rest of the garment’s design, is attributed to adidas.” 

The German company chose to withdraw its legal action against the Black Lives Matter movement’s yellow three-stripe logo in March 2023 to avoid the appearance of criticising the anti-racism organisation. 

In June 2023, the US Supreme Court denied a request to hear NIKE‘s appeal in a long pending shoe design infringement dispute with adidas.