BLM Dodges Adidas Legal Battle, but Other Brands Remain Targets

  • Adidas has retracted its notice of opposition against Black Lives Matter trademarking its logo.
  • The unusual move follows a complaint filed by the company on March 27 with the USPTO.
  • Adidas has many other cases pending against brands involving its three stripe logo.

Adidas has decided to drop efforts to block Black Lives Matter from trademarking its logo, in a sudden reversal of events this week.

Like the German sportswear giant, BLM’s logo features three stripes. But BLM’s stripes are yellow as opposed to Adidas’ black and white branding. On March 27, Adidas filed a notice of opposition with the US Patent and Trademark Office, arguing that BLM’s logo design is too similar to its own. In the notice of opposition, Adidas went into great detail about its 70-year history using the three-stripe mark in collaborating with artists and athletes. It noted how any merchandise sold by BLM would be mistakenly associated with the company. 

But now Adidas will drop its complaint. According to reports in the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, the company did not want to be misinterpreted as objecting to what BLM stands for.  

“It appears that Adidas pulled this case because of concerns about the negative public relations fallout that could result from litigation against an organization such as Black Lives Matter,” Josh Gerben, founding partner of Gerben Perrott PLLC, told Insider in an email. 

BLM did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. An Adidas spokesperson told Insider that it will withdraw its opposition to BLM registering its trademark “as soon as possible.”

Other small players at the mercy of Adidas’ legal wrath

While Adidas’ decision to retract its complaint to the USPTO is good news for BLM, “there are so many smaller and less notable companies that will still have to defend similar claims,” Gerben said. 

Adidas has at least five pending cases involving its three stripes logo against companies like Elite Custom WearEquicor LLC, and Sol Echo

Gerben said these companies are unlikely to benefit from similar press coverage and may be unable to afford “the legal expertise needed to defend the claims from such a large company.”

In recent years, Adidas has been aggressive about defending its trademarks, similar to its archrival Nike. Its decision not to pursue legal action against BLM comes a couple of months after American designer Thom Browne took on Adidas in court and won

Adidas sought $7.8 million in damages, alleging consumers could easily confuse the two brands. Thom Browne’s lawyers successfully argued that consumers can’t confuse the two brands because Adidas is a sportswear company and Thom Browne is a luxury fashion house. 

“Fighting this was important,” Browne said in an interview with The New York Times after the verdict was read. He told the publication the decision was a “protection for creativity” against big companies. “When you create something, someone can’t just come and take it away from you.”

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