Three stripes is a trademark of Adidas consisting of three parallel lines, which typically feature along the side of Adidas apparel. Adidas was known for this branding early in its history, with its owner, Adolf Dassler, describing it as "The three stripe company".
Designs for shoes registered in 1949 incorporated the three stripes along the side.
Branding in sports
In 1998, Adidas sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association over their rules limiting the size and number of commercial logos on team uniforms and apparel. Adidas withdrew the suit, and the two groups established guidelines as to what three-stripe designs would be considered uses of the Adidas trademark.
In late 2004, rival sporting good manufacturers filed a complaint to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over Adidas being allowed to exceed the 20 cm2 limit permitted for branding with the three stripes. Adidas argued that the trademark device was a design element rather than a logo and despite being an IOC sponsor, which led to accusations of Adidas receiving preferential treatment, the three stripes were banned by the Olympic movement starting with the 2006 Winter Games. However, Adidas circumvented the ban by using a modified three stripe design, combining them with the number 3, for the 2006 Games.
In 2006 Adidas sued All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (Wimbledon), other Grand Slam tournaments and the International Tennis Federation over restrictions on manufacturer's identifications placed on player clothing.
In popular culture
The musical artist Lady Sovereign references the Three Stripes trademark in her song "Hoodie" from the album Public Warning. The album was released in 2006 and had multiple remixes, again involving references to the Three Stripes trademark.
- 1983: Adidas v Charles O'Neill and Co Ltd 1983 ILRM 112.
- 1995: settled a dispute with Walmart
- 2000: Marca Mode v Adidas decided at the European Court of Justice (Case C-425/98)
- 2002: settled with Walmart
- 2003: filed a lawsuit in a British court challenging Fitness World Trading's use of a two-stripe motif similar to Adidas's three stripes.
- 2004 (August): Polo Ralph Lauren
- 2005: Abercrombie & Fitch, in Portland
- 2005 (March): Dutch Court of Appeal decided that Adidas had not sufficiently demonstrated that the Marca two-stripe design did not infringe, based on the Benelux Trademarks Act. (see Benelux Office for Intellectual Property)
- 2007 (February): Dutch Supreme Court ruled in the case Adidas/Marca Mode II that the two stripe of Marca et al. did not infringe the three stripe trade mark of Adidas.
- 2008 (April): European Court of Justice decided in favour of Adidas, against Marca Mode, C&A, H&M Hennes & Mauritz and Vendex KBB, that two-stripes could infringe on the Adidas three-stripe trademark.
- 2008 (May): Kmart
- 2008: Payless ShoeSource, ordered to pay $304.6 million; later reduced to $64.4 million. No. 01-CV-01655-RE.
- 2008 (October): Wal-Mart Stores Inc., third confidential settlement.
- 2009: Aldo Group Inc., filed 14 January in federal court in Portland, claiming a breach of out-of-court settlements between the companies in 2004 and 2006. Adidas America Inc. v. Aldo Group Inc., 3:09- cv-00056 
- 2014 Aidas successfully registers the three-stripe design at the European Union level
- 2016 The EU's Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) annuls the 2014 registration on the grounds that it was not distinctive enough.
- 2019 EU General Court upholds the 2016 decision of the EUIPO stating that it did not have enough "distinctive character" to qualify for the trademark.
- Conrad Brunner (2004). All day I dream about sport : the story of the Adidas brand. London: Cyan. ISBN 1-904879-12-8. 
- "The Adidas Logo". Logaster. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
The company simple placed three black stripes on everything that they manufactured. Even this early in their history, the company was known for this branding. The owner of the company at the time liked to call his business “The three stripe company”. Even as new logos took the place of the old ones, the company would remain loyal to the three stripes look.
- "Birthday of adidas". Adidas website. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
On 31 March 1949, this shoe was registered, along with the following three shoes, as a registered design through the patent lawyer Dr Wetzel.
- Smit, Barbara (2007). Pitch Invasion, Adidas, Puma and the making of modern sport. Penguin. p. 44. ISBN 0-14-102368-6.
- Simon Chadwick; Dave Arthur (2007). International cases in the business of sport. Butterworth-Heinemann. p. 438. ISBN 0-7506-8543-3.
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- Erik Larson (January 17, 2009). "Adidas Sues Aldo Over Claim It Copied Three-Stripe Design". Bloomberg L.P.
- Anne-Marie Mooney Cotter; Law Society of Ireland; Garrett Breen (2003). Intellectual property law. Routledge Cavendish. pp. 12, 23–4. ISBN 1-85941-805-8.
- Three stripes victorious – Adidas for the third time before the European Court of Justice
- Osborn, Andrew (11 July 2003). "Adidas told its three stripes don't constitute a trademark". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
- "Adidas- Salomon AG and Adidas Benelux BV v. Fitnessworld Trading Ltd". Lawdit Solicitors. 13 July 2003.
- "Adidas sues Abercrombie over three-stripe logo". Portland Business Journal. January 12, 2005.
- European IP Bulletin, Issue 22, May - Trade Mark: Adidas v Marca at the Court of Appeal in the Netherlands
- Adidas’ three stripes trade mark: Should Freihaltebedürfnis (public interest) be considered in the infringement assessment?, 25.04.07 - Marc van Wijngaarden
- David Lawsky; Darren Ennis & editing by Andrew Hurst (April 10, 2008). "EU court backs Adidas over three stripes". Reuters.
- "Jury Awards Adidas a Record-Setting $305M in Damages, But Payless Fights for Reversal". LawUpdates.com. May 19, 2008.
- Greg Thompson. "Three Stripes, You're Out!".
- "Adidas loses EU bid to extend three-stripe trademark". Reuters. 2019-06-19. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- John Simmons (16 January 2005). "Three stripes and you're in - how Adidas went for gold". The Observer. London.
- A tale of three stripes and family strife
- The Adidas Three-Stripes Saga Continues
- Adidas under the microscope (Ip Conference London September 23, 2008)
- Three stripes? Think twice, Newsletter - Spring 2009, TLT LLP
- Bird & Bird Adidas’ three stripes trade mark: Should Freihaltebedürfnis (public interest) be considered in the infringement assessment?