Intellectual property information

Adidas vs. Thom Browne -Trademark infringement and trademark dilution-

Adidas vs. Thom Browne
-Trademark infringement and trademark dilution-


In July 2021, sportswear brand Adidas introduced luxury apparel brand Thom Browne's four stripes and grosgrain (three red, white, and blue stripes of the same width and ultra-thin white lines on both sides; Thom Browne claims to have five stripes. ) filed a lawsuit alleging that Adidas was infringing on the three stripes registered trademark and causing dilution. In 7, about 4 years before the lawsuit, Thom Browne, who had been using three stripes, changed to four stripes at Adidas' request.

adidas (plaintiff)

main claim

Adidas has been using the three stripes in the United States since 1952, and many people know the Adidas three stripes.
- Thom Browne used to sell formal wear, but in recent years it has started to branch out into the sportswear business. Thom Browne signed with FC Barcelona, ​​the club that includes Adidas athlete Lionel Messi, and became involved in the NBA, where Adidas has a long-standing relationship with players.
・There was a comment on an Instagram post about 4 stripes and grosgrain that said, ``I thought it was Adidas.'' Additionally, in a survey conducted by Adidas consultant Hal Poret, 2,400% of 26.9 sportswear consumers saw a Thom Browne product and thought it was an Adidas product.
It is malicious that Thom Browne shifted from formal wear to sportswear in 2007, despite knowing that Adidas owned the trademark for the three stripes.

Adidas registered trademark

Reg. No. 2,058,619
Reg. No. 2,284,308
Reg. No. 1,815,956
Reg. No. 4,910,643

Tom Brown (defendant)

main claim

・The only registered trademark of Adidas is the three vertical stripes. Stripes are a common design on clothing, and Adidas' trademark rights do not extend to stripes other than three vertical stripes (two stripes, four stripes, etc.).
- Thom Browne is a luxury brand while Adidas is a sportswear brand, so the two companies do not compete and consumers will not confuse the two companies.
(Adidas sweatpants: $55, Thom Browne sweatpants: $1,000)
- Thom Browne was inspired by his university's varsity clothing, not Adidas. Additionally, in 2007, the three stripes were changed to four stripes at Adidas' request to avoid disputes. Therefore, there is no malicious intent.
・Even though Adidas remained silent for about 4 years until 2018 after changing to four stripes, it is unfair to file a lawsuit.

tom brown products

4 stripes


In January 2023, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, pursuant to a jury verdict, found Thom Browne not liable for trademark infringement and dilution. The evidence submitted by Adidas was not sufficient.

About Adidas' three stripes

For example, a lawsuit was filed claiming that the three stripes on Forever 21's sweatshirts were trademark infringement, and the lawsuit was settled, and Forever 3 stopped selling the product. Additionally, Adidas filed an opposition to Tesla's three-stripe logo, and Tesla changed its trademark design.
Adidas is trying to avoid diluting the Three Stripes trademark and reducing its distinctiveness by preventing third parties from using anything similar to the Three Stripes to the extent possible. In addition, while small companies often do not have the funds to continue litigation, Adidas, which has sufficient funds, has been able to reach more settlements through long-term litigation, and is proactive in exercising its rights. It can be said that this is only possible because Adidas has the funds.


Our comment

Adidas' lawsuit against Thom Browne is also considered to be Adidas' strategy to prevent dilution of the three stripes trademark. After the first instance judgment, Adidas is proceeding with the appeal process, and it will be interesting to see what kind of judgment will be handed down in the second instance, or whether a settlement will be reached.

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