By Julie Nixon
It isn’t often I get to blog about IP and fashion, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity when I heard that Adidas AG recently filed a claim against Marc Jacobs International LLC in the US Federal Court for allegedly infringing its iconic Three-Stripe Trade Mark. Disappointingly Vogue online has described this as copyright infringement!
As part of the “Marc by Marc Jacobs” line (the cheaper diffusion line of the brand), the designer has been selling sweaters with four stripes running down the arms, a design very similar to the well-known three stripe motif of Adidas. In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in Oregon, Adidas have accused Marc Jacobs of trademark infringement and dilution, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.
Adidas owns several registered trade marks for its three stripes logo in relation to “three parallel equally spaced stripes applied to a garment…… the stripes running along one third or more of the side of the garment.”
"The purchasing public has come to associate the Three-Stripe Mark with Adidas," read the lawsuit. "Marc Jacobs's merchandise is likely to cause confusion, deceive the public regarding its source, and dilute and tarnish the distinctive quality of Adidas' Three-Stripe Mark."
Part of Adidas's argument is that it is competitive with Marc by Marc Jacobs as a luxury brand, due to an ongoing collaboration with designer Yohji Yamamoto on its Y-3 line. Both Y-3 and Marc by Marc Jacobs are sold in higher end department stores. As a result both brands are reaching a similar customer base.
Adidas has asked the court to prevent Marc Jacobs from selling and marketing the designs, to give up the profits from any of the items already sold, and pay unspecified damages.
No court decision has been made as yet, but given how iconic the Adidas three stripe mark is, the court may well decide that Marc Jacobs' use of stripes on their sweaters creates a likelihood of confusion in the minds of the public.
Interestingly the Marc by Marc Jacobs line, despite making up the bulk of the sales of the company, is to be folded in to the main, more expensive Marc Jacobs line. Whether this affects the lawsuit remains to be seen.