Adidas sues shoemaker, says rival’s stripes are too similar

The iconic shoe brand says World Industries’ shoes’ three diagonal stripes ape their own

Big things are afoot in Portland, Ore. Athletic merchandise giant Adidas AG filed a lawsuit this week in federal court seeking to stop a skateboarding equipment maker and regional sporting goods retail chain from selling shoes allegedly too similar in design to its own.

Adidas claims that World Industries Inc.’s shoes, which have a trident-shaped, three-parallel-line, “W” logo on their sides, are too similar to their own iconic three-stripe motif. The German shoe brand says that World Industries’ shoes are knockoffs and infringe on many of its trademarks. Adidas first used the three-stripe logo in 1952 and started trademarking it in the U.S. in 1994.

Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. also is caught in the line of fire. Adidas added the regional sporting goods retailer to its complaint after it released an advertisement with Adidas’ shoes adjacent to World Industries’ shoes, both of which featured similar three-stripe designs.

"World Industries' merchandise is likely to cause consumer confusion, deceive the public regarding its source, and dilute and tarnish the distinctive quality of Adidas' Three-Stripe Mark," Adidas said in the complaint.

Adidas seeks monetary damages, to stop the sale of the infringing shoes and to have them destroyed.

The shoemaker has filed a series of similar lawsuits in recent years against other retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Adidas said Wal-Mart sold knockoffs with two or four parallel stripes.

Additionally, in 2008, Adidas was awarded $65.3 million by a federal judge in a trademark case against Payless ShoeSource Inc. The award was a vast reduction of an earlier, $305 million award by a jury. However, the companies eventually reached a confidential settlement.

For more on the lawsuit, read Reuters.

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