The General Court annuls the Adidas European Trademark

Recently the General Court has passed judgment confirming the invalidity of the Adidas EU trademark, described as “figurative mark represented by three equidistant parallel stripes, issued in the same dimensions applied in any direction”. The figurative sign shows three sloping stripes in black against a white background.

The judgement is of interest for the purposes of determining when we are before a pattern or before a figurative mark; the concept of “significant variations” in simple marks and; the proof of use of a trademark within a relevant territory. In this sense, according to the General Court:

 

  • The mark registered by adidas is not a pattern mark composed of a series of regularly repetitive elements (as however the Burberry’s tartan is), but an ordinary figurative mark.

 

  • The mark registered by adidas is categorized as “excessively simple”, by the General Court. It, therefore, has to be used with the characters registered, being allowed just to negligible variations. In this case, the General Court finds that there have been significant variations in the use of the contested mark (colour, dimensions and shape stripes unlike the registered) which lead to the conclusion that the registered mark has not been used. The General Tribunal, then, validates the assessment of evidenced carried out by the EUIPO.

 

  • In the present case, the acquisition of distinctive character has to be proved in the entire territory of the European Union and not only with respect to some States.