07.02.2023 | by Lili
The battle of the stripes seems to be over (at least for now.) In the court case of Adidas vs. Thom Browne, the court has recently ruled in favour of the latter.
While it’s not our job to evaluate the justification of the case and subsequent ruling, it’s certainly interesting to take a look at what happened and whether it could have any future implication for the protection of your brand’s IP rights.
Thom Browne conceded and added another stripe to its designs. Ever since 2008, the high fashion brand employed four stripes on its products and all was well until in 2018, Adidas objected to Thom Browne’s trademark application in the EU.
Matters escalated to court in 2021 when Adidas filed a lawsuit claiming that Thom Browne’s designs created confusion in consumers and allowed them to mistake Thom Browne products for Adidas.
As we mentioned earlier, the court eventually ruled in favour of Thom Browne, citing that Adidas has failed to prove the infringement on its IP rights and that consumers shouldn’t be confused by the use of three vs. four stripes on various articles of clothing.
Thom Browne is not the only brand in Adidas’ bad books. In fact, Adidas has repeatedly sued other manufactures over the use of stripes on their products. Since 2008, the sportswear giant has initiated over 90 court cases and has signed more than 200 settlement agreements. The opponents include J. Crew, Forever 21, Juicy Couture, Tesla, and even German sportswear-manufacturer Smilodox.
Most recently, Adidas has made the headlines thanks to a case against civil rights organisation Black Lives Matter. The latter is trying to trademark its logo, three yellow horizontal lines - which, according to the complaint Adidas submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office, can be mistaken for the sportswear company’s own three stripes, especially on merchandise produced by both organisations, like carrier bags, sports shirts and even websites.
However, just two days after filing the claim, Adidas backtracked and withdrew its application, allowing BLM to go ahead with registering its trademark.
And what about Louis Vuitton the fashion company vs. Louis Vuiton Dak the South Korean chicken restaurant? In that case, there can be no talk of a coincidental use of a commonly known fruit. Since the court found that the South Korean restaurant intentionally used a name and imagery similar to the fashion brand, they were forced to change their name and pay a fine.
Image of a Louis Vuitton Storefront with the company’s signature monogram LV
But let’s leave the matters of the court to lawyers. It’s not the job of online brand protection experts to decide who’s right in cases like these.
Our job comes earlier in the process: it’s up to us to find potential infringements, so that your brand even has a chance to take IP infringements to court.
How did Louis Vuitton find out about Louis Vuiton Dak? Probably not because the CEO of the French fashion giant happened to walk past the small eatery in South Korea.
But such infringements don’t only happen to well-known international luxury brands who are notified by concerned fans, or who have a large network of lawyers at their disposal to act upon such issues.
In fact, IP infringements happen to brands of all sizes across all industries. But what if you lack the means of support Louis Vuitton has? Then the infringement can continue for who knows how long, damaging your brand, your reputation and your bottom line in the process.
Unless you set up a comprehensive online brand protection program. We at globaleyez have extensive experience in IP rights protection and have created many tailor-made solutions for brands facing all kinds of trademark issues.
Our highly scalable services are geared towards detecting potentially IP infringing content on online marketplaces, social media, and elsewhere on the internet. With keyword-based searches, we can quickly come across product listings, social media posts, domains, and other types of content that may infringe upon your IP rights.
But what if fraudsters are using images? Actually, that’s very often the case, which is why we developed our image monitoring service. With a systematic, organized succession of reverse image searches, our state-of-the-art software infrimage detects stolen product pictures and brand imagery.
Image searches (along with all of our other services) can be tailored to your exact needs. For instance, take a look at the results of an image search we did in the framework of the three vs. any other number of stripes issue.
Screenshot of infrimage displaying some results for shoes featuring two stripes
As you can see, infrimage detects not only direct replicas, but similar products that try to rip your brand off by slightly resembling your originals.
If you want to escalate the infringement issue to court, globaleyez can support your case by gathering court admissible evidence. Screenshots taken with our tool, screenseal are fitted with a timestamp recognized in court. In addition, all the documentation we create while running our services are also admissible in court, helping you build a solid case against fraudsters infringing on your IP rights.
Don’t let fraudsters take advantage of your brand. Contact us and let’s devise a tailor-made strategy together to protect your IP rights.