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This epic case involved a battle between the famous three-stripe design trademark of Adidas and American the famous fashion designer Thom Browne’s four four-stripe design logos used in apparel. Adidas have been battling since 2018 seeking USD 867,225 in damages and an additional USD 7 million in profits that it alleges the New York brand made from products with four stripes. Let’s see how the three-stripes trademark is different from the four-stripes trademark logo. Will it be a case of trademark infringement or not?


In 2005, when Browne started his brand with a logo design of a three-stripe aka three-bar signature, Adidas approached him to stop using the logo as it infringed the Adidas trademark. Following that Thom Browne agreed to stop using a three-stripe design and adopted its current four-stripe design logo. The four-bar signature logo of Thom Browne became popular in the year 2018 in apparel. This popularity reignited the Adidas dispute over the trademark infringement by Thom Browne’s brand. 

Thom Browne filed a trademark application for a striped mark in the European Union. To halt this trademark application for red, white, and blue stripe trademarks for use on footwear filed by Thom Browne, Adidas filed an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Moreover, Adidas sued New York designer Thom Browne’s company, saying that “Thom Browne’s four-bar signature logo and “Grosgrain” stripe designs on its shoes and high-end activewear infringed on its three-stripe trademark rights.” Hence, The trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York began between these two big rivals against each other. 


Thom Browne has been accused of using four bar signature and Grosgrain stripe design trademark by Adidas for infringement for its three-stripe mark. Adidas argued that using Thom Browne’s company logo products creates confusion among the people and they may associate products made, sold and sponsored by Adidas. Thom Browne contended that his brand logo has an additional stripe, operates in distinct markets, serves customers with different price points and most importantly, has coexisted for more than a decade now. 

Adidas doesn’t have any sole monopoly rights on stripe design and it has exercised unreasonable delay in asserting its claims as the “Four-Bar Signature” was first sold in 2009 and was displayed on items of activewear at the fashion brand’s flagship New York store from 2010. However, Adidas claimed that it only became aware of the alleged infringement in early 2018, when Thom Browne applied to trademark the “Grosgrain Signature”. Apart from this, Thom Browne invalidated Adidas’ accusations of trademark infringement on the ground that the mark, which consists of three diagonal quadrilaterals positioned parallel to each other upon a contrasting background, places competitors at a significant non-reputation-related disadvantage because it is not limited to any specific number or orientation of stripes. 


The jury takes into consideration several factors such as whether the brands have sufficient ability to get their brands recognised under its specific trademark or not, the degree of similarity or lack of similarity between two trademarks to prove the sufficient likelihood of confusion and whether both the marks are competing against each other to target the same sets of customer base or not. 

After a lot of deliberations on two asserted claims by Adidas i.e. a claim of trademark infringement and a claim of trademark dilution by the defendant Thom Browne. The jury of eight people ruled in favour of Thom Browne Inc. and found that Thom Browne Inc. is not liable for the trademark infringement or dilution of the Adidas mark. Thom Browne Inc. was also not found liable for damages or profits made from the sale of products featuring the four-stripe design, as well as its hallmark red-white-and-blue grosgrain ribbon motif.

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