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Belt dispute – Adidas vs. Thom Browne. The clothing giant lost in court

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Adidas has lost in court as the clothing giant tried to stop fashion designer Thom Browne from using a four-stripe design, the BBC has reported.

The sportswear manufacturer claimed that the four stripes of luxury brand Thom Browne Inc were too similar to three stripes. Browne, on the other hand, argued that buyers were unlikely to confuse the two brands because, among other things, his had a different number of stripes.

Adidas vs Thom Browne

Adidas sought more than $7.8 million in damages, but a New York jury sided with Browne.

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Browne’s designs often feature four horizontal, parallel stripes framing the arm of the garment or – as is often seen in the artist himself – a sock. On the other hand, Adidas clothing or shoes often show three stripes.

Thom Browne in a four-stripe sockEDUARDO MUNOZ / Reuters / Forum

Browne’s legal team portrayed him as a victim in a major corporate battle and argued that the two brands had different target audiences. Sportswear does not dominate the creations of Thom Browne Inc, and its production is aimed at affluent customers – for example, a pair of women’s compression leggings costs £680 (about PLN 3,600) and a polo shirt – £ 270 (about PLN 1,400). Browne’s lawyers also stated that stripes are a common pattern, the portal reported.

He added that while Adidas initiated legal action in 2021, the battle between the two companies began more than 15 years ago. In 2007, Adidas complained that Thom Browne was using a three-stripe pattern on jackets. Browne agreed to stop using it and added a fourth stripe, he reminded the BBC.

He further explained that since then, Thom Browne Inc has grown rapidly – now its products can be purchased in more than 300 locations around the world, and in recent years it has also created more sportswear.

The brand has a diverse group of fans. She designed rapper Cardi B’s outfit at the Met Gala in 2019, while former footballer and former Bournemouth manager Scott Parker wore one of her cardigans and a jacket at English Premier League matches.

A spokesperson for Adidas said the company was disappointed but “will continue to vigilantly enforce its intellectual property rules, including filing any appropriate appeals.”

A spokesman for Thom Browne Inc said the company was satisfied with the result. Speaking to the Associated Press, the designer said he hoped the case would inspire others whose work is being challenged by larger firms. “It was important to fight and tell your story,” he said.

Documents used in the case show that Adidas has launched more than 90 court battles and signed more than 200 settlements over its trademark since 2008, the BBC reported.

Main photo source: EDUARDO MUNOZ / Reuters / Forum



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