Luxury designer Thom Browne has won a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by Adidas. A New York jury rejected Adidas’ claim that Brown’s three-stripes design was too similar to the company’s.
Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark. Such use may be in connection with goods or services and may cause confusion, deception, or misinterpretation as to the company from which the product or service originated. Trademark owners can take legal action if they believe their trademark has been infringed. If trademark infringement is proven, a court order can prevent the defendant from using the place, and the owner may receive monetary relief.
In the lawsuit, Browne’s defended its designs, arguing that the two companies are not direct competitors and do not serve the same consumer market. According to the Associated Press, the debate dates back 15 years. Adidas didn’t argue after Brown agreed to switch to a four-stripe design. However, as Browne became more recognizable after his 2018 auction, he began to branch out further into activewear, and the activewear giant took notice.
Adidas claimed Browne attempted to imitate their logo “in a manner likely to confuse consumers and deceive the public”. Browne has agreed to add a fourth stripe to end any confusion that may arise. However, the court ruled that stripes were a common design.
In the lawsuit, which went to trial last week, Adidas is seeking $867,225 in damages and an additional $7 million, which it claims represents Thom Browne’s profits. The eight-person jury reached its verdict in less than two hours, bringing the two-week trial to a close. Thom Browne’s attorneys argued in closing arguments that consumers would not confuse the two brands: Adidas is an athletic apparel company and Thom Browne is a fashion company.
Adidas said it planned to appeal the ruling. “We are disappointed by the judgment and will continue to enforce our intellectual property rights vigilantly, including making any appropriate appeals,” a spokesman said.