Adidas opposes ELEAGUE trademark due to the use of three stripes

Posted by Emma Bradley on
Global sportswear giant Adidas has filed a claim at the United States Patent and Trademark Office to oppose a trademark application submitted by ELEAGUE. Adidas has cited that the three stripes contained within ELEAGUE's proposed trademark is too similar to their 'Three Stripes' mark and could lead to confusion and dilution of the Adidas brand. Adidas has held its famous Three Stripes mark, in various trademarks, for approximately 50 years.

Trademarks are symbols or devices used by a trader to identify its goods. The fundamental concept of a trademark is to communicate information to the consumer about the origin of the goods. Simply put, trademarks distinguish goods or services of one trader from another.

ELEAGUE, a professional e-sports league owned by Turner Broadcasting, filed their trademark application in June 2016. ELEAGUE has sought to register the image of three diagonal lines, which appear to form the shape of the letter 'E'.

Adidas opposed ELEAGUE's filing on 10 October 2017 on two counts; confusion and dilution.

In relation to the first count, Adidas allege that in view of the similarities between ELEAGUE's proposed mark and their Three Stripes mark, it is likely that ELEAGUE's goods and services will be perceived as being endorsed by or connected with Adidas. With regards to dilution, Adidas maintain that the similarity between the two marks would 'dilute' the strength of the famous Adidas logo and in turn, damage the Adidas brand.

Although one may think that the two companies would not be easily confused, with Adidas being a sportswear brand and ELEAGUE an e-sports broadcaster, Adidas highlighted their presence within the e-sports and video gaming sector. Within their claim, Adidas stated that:

  • The Three Stripes mark is used in connection with goods and services relating to the fields of electronic sports and video gaming.
  • Adidas sponsors the FIFA Interactive World Cup tournament.
  • The Three Stripes mark is used and displayed, with Adidas' permission, in video games, including on virtual players' clothing and on virtual signs, sports fields and courts, which appear in the game.

Practically speaking, one would expect that the two brands could easily be distinguished from one and other. However, it is to be noted that this is not the first time that Adidas have opposed a trademark, with the brand opposing the likes of FC Barcelona, TESLA, Marc Jacobs and Forever 21 over the last few years.

ELEAGUE has 40 days to file a response to Adidas' claim. If the parties are not able to reach a settlement then the matter will proceed to trial.

Our lawyers are experts in brand protection to include trademarks and registered design applications; oppositions and revocation; trade mark portfolio management and brand strategy advice.

If you have any questions about this article or trademarks, please contact Emma Bradley.

About the Authors

Emma Bradley is a Trainee Solicitor in the Commercial Litigation team, based in London.

Emma Bradley
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Chris has specific expertise in advising clients in IP and IT disputes, with particular emphasis in the internet field of technology cases.

Chris Williams
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