Adidas has not been shy about going after retailers that seek to trademark striped designs. The athletic wear brand’s latest target? The struggling J. Crew.
“Adidas is famously a bully,” Alexandra Roberts, an intellectual property lawyer and associate professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, told Yahoo Finance. “It has sued tons of competitors over the years ... and it frequently ends up settling.”
Last week, as Law360 first reported, Adidas filed a notice of opposition to J. Crew’s trademark application for a five-stripe design that could be applied to a wide range of retail items, including apparel and other goods.
Adidas’s opposition cites a number of its apparel items that it argues also use that design, including shoes, hats, jackets, and tank tops. Roberts explained that, upon J. Crew’s filing, “Adidas kinda raised its hand and said, ‘Not so fast. Check out our 20+ registrations...that cover the three stripes across all these categories already.”
On Aug. 19, the German sportswear company filed its opposition motion, which has been suspended while the two parties are in settlement negotiations.
Roberts explained that the negotiations likely will deal with Adidas requesting specific applications that J. Crew’s design will not be used for.
“Adidas might also say, ‘What if you don’t register it as a trademark? What if you just go ahead and use it?’” she said. “There’s probably some case for compromise.”
Roberts explained that some of the applications Adidas is seeking to protect are “a stretch,” which is why “Adidas has this reputation of bullying. I think it’s a reasonable objection to say it’s really policing its mark far too broadly and far too aggressively.”
Adidas declined to comment on its opposition to the trademark.
Disclosure: Alexandra Roberts is the sister of Yahoo Finance senior writer Dan Roberts.
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