Can You Own Stripes?

from the striped-moron-in-a-hurry dept

We've discussed over and over again how companies misuse trademark law, believing that it gives them total ownership over the mark, rather than the fact that it's really designed to prevent consumer confusion. Joe Mullin has the details on the fact that shoemaker Adidas is suing a bunch of different companies for using stripes on shoes or other clothing. Adidas, famously, uses three parallel stripes on the side of its shoes as part of its brand -- and has a trademark on that design. That seems fair enough. But now it's won a $305 million ruling against a shoe retailer for daring to sell shoes that had two or four stripes. The company has also sued many other brands for various combinations of stripes and clothing. This is what happens when people talk about trademark as being "intellectual property." It gets them thinking that it creates total ownership over something as basic as stripes.
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Filed Under: stripes, trademark
Companies: adidas

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  1. icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), 23 May 2008 @ 4:49am

    Re: Re: Don't rush to judgement (like a moron in a hurry)

    Yeah, I'm with Sean on this one. It looks like for the most part, the suit is about other companies using stripes that really are "too similar" to Adidas' logo. Not being a shoe fanatic, if I were to try to go out and buy shoes (for someone else, I don't care about brand myself), I could see myself thinking "sweet! wholesale prices for the same shoe!" because they look confusingly alike.

    Without knowing all of the logos being grouped into this supposed infringement, it's hard to say how far into the realm of stupid this one goes.

    I do think that Mike's general views about overuse of Trademark law is further validated by this case though. I know that Comment 10 by Brian is hyperbole and sarcastic, but there are plenty of ridiculous suits out there that make us think that way. And because of the sheer number of those suits, our first inclination is to assume this one is at that level too. Because the real morons in a hurry are the lawyers who take the ridiculous cases, the (possibly) legitimate ones are overlooked and lumped in with the rest.

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