Adidas Portland sues Forever 21 over branding

Adidas calls Forever 21’s action a “blatant disregard” for Adidas’ rights in lawsuit

The Adidas logo and its Three Strip Mark show in a KOIN 6 News photo.
The Adidas logo and its Three Strip Mark show in a KOIN 6 News photo.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -– Adidas America filed a federal lawsuit against Forever 21 on Wednesday claiming the clothing company is making counterfeit products and violating trademark laws.

Adidas claims these are examples of the identical or confusingly similar imitations of the Three-Strip Mark (Federal lawsuit)
Adidas claims these are examples of the identical or confusingly similar imitations of the Three-Strip Mark (Federal lawsuit)

At issue is Adidas’ “Three-Stripe Mark.” The company says, for decades, it has placed the striping on clothing and footwear. In addition, the company has invested millions of dollars “building its brand in connection with the ‘three-stripe mark,’” according to the federal lawsuit.

Adidas says it owns numerous “incontestable federal trademark registrations” for the design. Despite that, the company claims Forever 21 is “designing, sourcing, manufacturing, disturbing, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, and/or selling apparel bearing identical and/or confusingly similar imitations of Adidas’ Three-Strip Mark.”

The lawsuit claims the merchandise is “likely to cause confusion, deceive the public regarding its source, and dilute and tarnish the distinctive quality of Adidas’ Three-Strip Mark.”

Examples of Adidas' the Three-Strip Mark as shown in federal court documents
Examples of Adidas’ the Three-Strip Mark as shown in federal court documents

Adidas is asking a federal judge to prevent Forever 21 from distributing, marketing or selling clothing that bears either “identical or confusingly similar imitations of the Three-Strip Mark”.

The company is asking that it be awarded monetarily. The lawsuit also seeks Forever 21 to “disgorge all profits from sales of the counterfeit and/or infringing apparel.”

Adidas says it has used its three-strip mark branding to sponsor musical artists including Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, B.o.B, Snoop Dogg, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, according to the lawsuit. The company also sponsors Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard, records show.

Over decades, annual sales of the products bearing the three-stripe mark have totaled in the “billions of dollars globally and in the hundreds of millions of dollars within the United States,” the lawsuit states.

According to documents, Adidas calls Forever 21’s action a “blatant disregard” for Adidas’ rights.

The lawsuit accuses Forever 21 and Central Mills of knowingly counterfeiting, infringing on federal trademark laws, and creating unfair competition by participating in unfair and deceptive trade practices. The company also alleges Forever 21 is causing dilution of the Adidas trademark.

Maria Culp, a spokesperson for Adidas in Portland, says the company could not offer any additional comment.

KOIN 6 News was unable to reach representatives from Forever 21 and Central Mills Inc. for comment on this story and the lawsuit.

KOIN 6 News anchor Dan Tilkin contributed to this report

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