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Adidas Sues Over Rival Shoemaker's 3-Stripe Design

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 23, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Athletic apparel maker Adidas is suing a competitor for allegedly stepping on its trademark with a new line of sneakers.

Germany-based Adidas, whose U.S. operations are headquartered in Portland, Ore., asserts trademark infringement by Costa Mesa, Calif.-based World Industries because of a design on a line of skate shoes, The Oregonian reports.

World Industries' "Major" skate shoe depicts an oversized "W," much like the company's other sneakers. But Adidas' lawyers say the design crosses the line into infringement.

That's because the "W" on World Industries' "Major" skate shoe looks a lot like Adidas' trademark that depicts three simple stripes, Adidas argues in a federal lawsuit.

The suit seeks a court order to stop World Industries and Big 5 Sporting Goods from selling the allegedly infringing shoes, along with unspecified monetary damages, The Oregonian reports.

World Industries' stylized "W" is designed so that the bottom of the letter "W" melds with the bottom of the shoe, leaving consumers to only see three stripes, Adidas argues in its lawsuit.

The result "is likely to cause consumer confusion, deceive the public..., and dilute and tarnish the distinctive quality of Adidas' Three-Stripe Mark," Adidas' lawsuit says, according to Reuters.

But a photo of World Industries' shoes shows the tips of the stylized "W" are capped with arrowheads, which appears different than Adidas' well-known logo. A spokesman for World Industries could not be reached for comment by Reuters.

Lawyers for Adidas and World Industries may try to settle the lawsuit out of court, or a jury may get to decide the case, as happened in Adidas' 2008 trademark infringement suit against Payless Shoesource. Jurors found Payless' two- and four-stripe shoe designs infringed on Adidas' three-stripe trademark, The Oregonian reported. The companies eventually reached a confidential settlement.

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