Adidas Sues Puma For Confusion Between Three-Stripe And Four-Stripe Soccer Cleats – Forbes
Three-stripes is synonymous with , which has been emblazoning its apparel and footwear with three consecutive stripes for more than sixty years. But what if a brand chooses to manufacture and sell product with a design bearing four stripes? Is it likely to confuse consumers as to source of the goods?
According to a recently initiated lawsuit by adidas, there is no doubt that a consumer is likely to be confused as to whether adidas is involved with products containing four stripes. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court District of Oregon (Portland Division) is against Puma North America, Inc. and alleges trademark infringement against adidas’ competitor.
Specifically, adidas states concern with Puma now offering for sale a soccer cleat that contains four consecutive stripes. Additionally, adidas cites to a mutual history with Puma — both companies were founded by brothers Adi Dassler and Rudolph Dassler and share the same small German town for their corporate headquarters.
“Puma’s use of four diagonal stripes on the side of the Infringing Cleat is a blatant attempt by Puma to trade on the goodwill and commercial magnetism adidas has built up in the Three-Stripe Mark and to free-ride on adidas’ fame as a preeminent soccer brand,” states the complaint filed by adidas.
The complaint also gets into some discussion concerning the extent of adidas’ sponsorship in the world of soccer.
“Not only has adidas been the official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament for more than forty (40) years, adidas has sponsored numerous soccer stars, including David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Heather O’Reilly, Gareth Bale, Omar Gonzalez and Christine Rampone,” per the complaint. “In addition to international fame in the soccer arena, adidas is the official sponsor of Major League Soccer (“MLS”) in North America, as well as the exclusive apparel provider for each of the MLS teams, including the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, and L.A. Galaxy.”
The complaint requests that the court preliminarily and permanently enjoin Puma from distributing, marketing or selling footwear bearing a confusingly similar imitation of the three-stripe mark, award adidas monetary damages and require Puma to disgorge all its profits from sales of the four-stripe soccer clear, as well as punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.
Darren Heitner the Founder of South Florida-based HEITNER LEGAL, P.L.L.C. and Sports Agent Blog. He authored the book, How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know.