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Adidas Targets J.Crew in Latest Battle to Protect Three Stripes Trademarks

Adidas is taking another brand to task in order to protect its three stripes trademarks—this time, the German sportswear brand is looking to block a J.Crew trademark request it says is far too similar to its own iconic imagery.

Earlier in August, Adidas filed a complaint in opposition to a trademark request put forward by J.Crew International Inc. in February under the jurisdiction of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

In the complaint issued to the USPTO’s Trial and Appeals Board, Adidas references its own registered trademarks, of which there are more than 20, and claims the affirmation of J.Crew’s trademark requests would create an environment in which consumers were “likely to assume that the goods and services offered under [J.Crew’s trademarks] originate from the same source.”

“[J.Crew’s trademark request]…incorporates three stripes in a manner that is confusingly similar to Adidas’s Three-Stripe Mark in appearance and overall commercial impression,” the brand’s legal team wrote in the complaint issued to the Board. “Additionally, registration of [J.Crew’s trademarks] is likely to dilute the distinctiveness of the Three-Stripe Mark by eroding consumers’ exclusive identification of the Three-Stripe Mark with Adidas, and otherwise lessening the capacity of the Three-Stripe Mark to identify and distinguish the goods and services of Adidas.”

J.Crew’s request, according to Adidas’ complaint, concerns a wide variety of garments and accessories from tops, shorts and handbags all the way to luggage and bowties.

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Examples of “nonfunctional” marks Adidas says are at risk of dilution if J.Crew’s application is accepted. Courtesy of Filing

Adidas’ main argument for the dismissal of the application revolves around its long-time investment and stringent protection of the Three Stripes trademarks it claims are at issue. As evidence of this, the brand referenced spending “millions of dollars promoting the mark and products bearing the mark” and even its “frequent sponsorship” of athletes and artists—all of which it decks out in three-striped footwear and apparel.

However, it is possible the complaint may end up being decided outside of the jurisdiction of the USPTO, as Adidas filed a motion of suspension on Aug. 23 to give their legal team 60 days to negotiate terms via settlement with J.Crew.

The history of Adidas’ legal actions toward brands it believes have infringed on its trademarks would suggest the brand is unlikely to back down. Just over the last few years, it has taken brands like Puma, APL, and Skechers—which actually beat Adidas to the punch and filed its own preemptive lawsuit when it became clear that the brand would be taking legal action.

This new legal battle isn’t the first time that Adidas has taken on an apparel brand outside of sportswear, either. According to the Fashion Law, Forever 21 filed a suit against Adidas in 2017, calling the brand a “bully” and asking for protection from the court after receiving cease-and-desist letters concerning the Three Stripes mark.