Puma is the latest brand to be hit with a lawsuit from the highly litigious adidas. The German sportswear giant filed suit against its Kering-owned rival last week in the the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division, claiming Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition, Trademark Dilution, and Deceptive Trade Practices in connection with 4-striped shoes being offered by Puma.
According to adidas’ complaint, “Despite adidas’s longstanding rights in the Three-Stripe Mark, Puma recently began offering for sale a soccer cleat bearing a confusingly similar imitation of adidas’s Three- Stripe Mark.”
In addition to calling out the allegedly infringing shoe, adidas goes on to note: “Puma is not only a direct competitor, but shares a mutual history with adidas. adidas and Puma were founded by brothers Adi Dassler and Rudolph Dassler. Both companies’ corporate headquarters are still located in the same small town in southern Germany. Puma is thus intimately familiar with adidas’s Three-Stripe Mark and the enormous goodwill it represents."
The complaint continues, "Thus, Puma’s use of four diagonal stripes on the side of the Infringing Cleat is a blatant attempt by Puma to trade on the goodwill and commercial magnetism adidas has built up in the Three-Stripe Mark and to free-ride on adidas’s fame as a preeminent soccer brand.”
The sportswear giant, which notes that it has been using its three-stripe mark on footwear for over 60 years, alleges that the footwear “distributed, offered for sale, and sold by Puma is not manufactured by adidas, nor is Puma associated, affiliated, or connected with adidas, or licensed, authorized, sponsored, endorsed, or approved by adidas in any way.” Moreover, adidas asserts, that “Puma’s actions demonstrate an intentional, willful, and malicious intent to trade on the goodwill associated with adidas’s Three-Stripe Mark to the great and irreparable injury of adidas.”
Adidas claims that Puma’s allegedly infringing cleats, which are currently available for sale, are “likely to cause confusion, deceive the public regarding its source, and dilute and tarnish the distinctive quality of adidas’s Three-Stripe Mark.”
As a result, adidas has asked the court to “(a) permanently enjoin Puma from marketing or selling footwear bearing confusingly similar four-stripe imitations of the Three-Stripe Mark; (b) award adidas monetary damages and to treble any monetary damages award; (c) require Puma to disgorge all profits from sales of the infringing footwear; and (d) award adidas punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.”
While high fashion/luxury brands are the ones who are consistently considered some of the most litigious, adidas is quickly taking a top spot. In the past few years, alone, the sportswear brand has sued Italian menswear brand Bally; Skechers; Belgian footwear company, Shoe Branding Europe BVBA; Payless Shoes; fellow footwear brands APL and ECCO; Marc Jacobs; and Forever 21, among others, in connection with striped footwear and garments.
The lawsuit at hand comes on the heels of an earlier suit that adidas filed against Puma, in an attempt to stop its smaller rival from selling a new line of shoes with light-weight, bouncy soles similar to its popular "Boost" brand. Adidas sought an injunction to stop the sale of Puma’s "NRGY" line, but lost the case at the Duesseldorf regional court in April 2016.
* The case is Adidas America, Inc.; Adidas AG; Adidas International Marketing B.V., v. Puma North America, 3:17-cv-00283 (D.Or.).