Adidas just lost a legal battle with designer Thom Browne over whether it's OK to sell products with stripes

Thom Browne, second from right, prevailed in a trademark lawsuit against Adidas.
Thom Browne, second from right, prevailed in a trademark lawsuit against Adidas.Seth Wenig/AP
  • Thom Browne prevailed in a trademark lawsuit filed by Adidas.

  • Adidas argued the company's stripe designs confused consumers.

  • The sportswear giant told Insider it plans to appeal the ruling.

It took a Manhattan jury less than three hours to come back with a ruling in favor of fashion company Thom Browne in a legal dispute with Adidas.

In 2021, Adidas sued Thom Browne and alleged its designs infringed on Adidas trademarks, specifically how the German sportswear company uses stripes. It claimed Thom Browne used stripes on a line of sportswear in order to imitate the company's logo "in a manner that is likely to cause consumer confusion and deceive the public."

Thom Browne had already agreed to add a fourth stripe in order to avoid confusion. Adidas is known for its three-stripes logo.

The lawsuit went to trial last week, with Adidas seeking $867,225 in damages and another $7 million that it claimed was equivalent to Thom Browne's ill-gotten profits. Founder Thom Browne arrived at the courthouse last week wearing a shorts suit and a sock with four stripes.

In his closing argument, Thom Browne's attorney argued consumers don't confuse the two brands: Adidas is a sportswear company. Thom Browne is a fashion house.

"The notion of Thom Browne wanting to trade on the reputation of Adidas offends him. He is not Adidas," Robert Maldonado said in his closing statement, according to WWD.

A Thom Browne spokesperson said the company was pleased with the verdict.

"For over 20 years now, Thom Browne has been a pioneering force in luxury fashion, bringing a wholly unique and distinctive design aesthetic that combines classic tailoring with American sportswear sensibilities," the spokesperson said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to design and provide the creative products that have become the hallmark of the Thom Browne label."

In a statement to Insider, Adidas said it plans to appeal the ruling.

"We are disappointed with the verdict and will continue to vigilantly enforce our intellectual property, including filing any appropriate appeals," a spokesman said.

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