Adidas sues West Michigan competitor for allegedly ripping off 'famous' three-stripe shoe design
The stripes on Merrell’s new barefoot Glove shoes look too much like Adidas' famous three-stripe mark, contends the athletic footwear giant, which is suing the Michigan maker of outdoor and lifestyle brands for trademark infringement.
“For decades, Adidas has extensively and continuously used and promoted the Three-Stripe Mark in connection with footwear and apparel,” noted the company’s attorney in the suit filed May 25 in an Oregon federal court.
“In recent years, annual sales of products bearing the Three-Stripe Mark have totaled in the billions of dollars globally and in the hundreds of millions of dollars within the United States. The Three-Stripe Mark has achieved fame and tremendous public recognition.”
Wolverine didn’t immediately return a call and email seeking comment, and the company has not filed a response to the suit.
In addition to seeking punitive damages and legal costs, Adidas is asking the court to order Wolverine to destroy all products, packaging and marketing that allegedly infringe on its trademark whether the shoes have two, three or four stripes.
Adidas frequently turns to the court system to defend its stripes, reports the Portland Business Journal, a sister publication of MLive Media Group.
Adidas has filed more than 3 dozen trademark infringement lawsuits against companies it accuses of copying its distinctive three stripe pattern.
The list of companies Adidas has sued for trademark infringement are the Who’s Who in fashion and retail: Walmart, Kmart, Ralph Lauren, Lands’ End, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aldo Group and World Industries Inc. and Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp.
Adidas has filed claims against about three dozen retailers in the past 15 years to keep what it considers knockoffs from diluting the brand, reports Bloomberg. Shoes and clothing with two- and four-stripe also have triggered suits by Adidas, which claims they are too close to the company’s 60-year-old three stripe design.
The world’s second largest athletic shoe company, has twice sued Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, for trademark infringement in the past 20 years. Walmart settled a case with Adidas in 2008 two months before the case was scheduled to go to jury trial, according to Bloomberg.
That same year, a Portland jury ordered Collective Brands Inc. to pay $304.6 million for trademark infringement. That verdict, which prompted Kmart's parent company, Sears Holdings Corp., to settle its case over the same design that same week, was later reduced to $65.3 million by a federal judge. Collective Brands later reached a confidential settlement, according to a Reuters.
Collective Brands is the company that last month Wolverine announced it is buying as part of a consortium that will give the Rockford company ownership of four new brands: Keds, Stride Rite, Sperry Top-Sider and Saucony.
In the suit, attorneys for Adidas say the company tried to resolve the issue with Wolverine but couldn’t reach an agreement.