Thom Browne Keeps Its Stripes; Jury Limits Scope Of Adidas’ Three-Stripe Trademark

Thom Browne

In a battle over stripes, Thom Browne prevailed in a federal trademark infringement lawsuit lodged against it by athleisure and sportswear giant Adidas in the Southern District of New York.  Adidas accused luxury fashion brand Thom Browne of impermissibly using its “three-stripe” logo design that has existed since 1952 and that is protected by several trademark registrations covering footwear and apparel.  At issue were Thom Browne’s “Four-Bar Signature” horizontal stripes design and “Grosgrain Signature” five-stripe design.  Adidas sought around $8 million in damages, alleging that Thom Browne’s expansion beyond its typical formal wear into sportswear and athletic leisure wear posed a likelihood of confusion between the brands’ striped marks.  

Counsel for Thom Browne highlighted that the two brands catered to different classes of buyers such that no confusion existed.  Indeed, Thom Browne products were significantly more expensive luxury items, as compared to Adidas athleisure and sportswear products.  Given prior disputes between Thom Browne and Adidas, in which Thom Browne agreed to discontinue its original three-stripe signature design, laches and estoppel were also raised as a defense.

The jury found in favor of Thom Browne and determined there was no infringement of Adidas’ three-stripe logo.  This decision not only allows Thom Browne to keep its stripes, but provides designers with more creative freedom to consider use of stripes in future designs. It remains to be seen whether Adidas appeals the decision