Adidas has been unsuccessful in its attempt to widen its trade mark protection for the three-stripes mark in the EU the General Court has held. 

The well known Trade Mark No. 12442166, which consists of three parallel equidistant stripes of identical width, was registered in the EU in May 2014. 

It is important to note that this trade mark was filed as an ordinary figurative mark and not a position mark. Adidas currently has numerous other registered trade marks (in the EU) protecting the positioning of its three stripes logo in respect of various items of clothing, see for example EU Trade Mark Registration 003517646 as applied to shoes. 

In December however, Shoe Branding Europe BVBA applied to the EUIPO to have Adidas’ three parallel stripes logo (which gave Adidas wider protection to apply the stripes in any direction on any clothing product) cancelled due to lack of distinctive character. 

In upholding the EUIPO’s original 2016 decision to cancel the mark, the General Court has held that “[Adidas] did not prove that that mark has acquired, throughout the territory of the EU, distinctive character following the use which had been made of it”. 

Adidas has commented that the ruling does not affect its ability to use and protect three stripe marks, and it is currently looking at its options to appeal the decision to the European Court of Justice.