The three parallel stripes of the Adidas logo, as seen on all of the German company's products, is quite possibly one of the most recognisable and famous trade marks in the world. Last week, a decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) allowed Adidas to oppose a trade mark for a pair of parallel stripes on a sports shoe.
The trade mark which Adidas have now been given permission to oppose was filed in 2009 by a Belgian company by the name of Shoe Branding Europe. The trade mark consisted of two forward slashes on the outside of the foot of the shoe. Adidas opposed the registration when it was first applied for but the opposition was originally dismissed on the grounds that the differences between its three stripe mark and the two stripe mark were significant when viewed side by side.
Adidas appealed the above decision and the CJEU has now sided with Adidas and given the company permission to appeal the registration of the two stripe trade mark. The CJEU reached this decision on the basis that the two marks were not dissimilar enough. The CJEU referenced many aspects of the two marks when reaching this decision. These included that the stripes on both designs were parallel, equidistant, of the same width, contrasting in colour with the rest of the shoe and on the outside of the foot. The CJEU found that these combined to mean that the overall impression of the two marks was the same and thus allowed Adidas permission to appeal the registration.
It will be interesting to see how this matter is decided, particularly in light of the recent rejection of the application from K Swiss for a trade mark for their 5 stripe figurative mark. This was rejected for being devoid of 'distinctive character' which is one of the grounds for refusal of a trade mark. We covered that earlier story here. The parallels with this matter are striking and it will be fascinating to see if that earlier decision has any impact on the final decision that will be reached in this matter.
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