On the heels of a number of lawsuits that adidas filed in recent years against fashion brands and retailers ranging from Marc Jacobs and Bally to Forever 21, it seems that there may be another lawsuit on the horizon with notorious copycat Nasty Gal as the target. The Los Angeles-based fast fashion retailer, which is currently on the market for a buyer and said to be laying off upwards of 15 staffers, is offering an interesting skirt for sale on its website and likely its brick and mortar stores: A skirt bearing adidas’ famous three-stripe trademark.
While stripes and other geometric designs may seem entirely commonplace for fashion designs, adidas has an array of federal trademark registrations for the 3-stripe design and in addition, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon has held multiple times that adidas’ 3-stripe design is a famous trademark. Therefore, adidas enjoys a truly wide range of legal protections in connection with its mark, including the right to prevent others - such as Nasty Gal - from using it.
The German sportswear giant will likely find Nasty Gal’s skirt particularly problematic, as aside from merely producing straightforward sportswear, the company has a frequent practice of collaborating with fashion designers, including Stella McCartney, Jeremy Scott, Raf Simons, Mary Katrantzou, and Yohji Yamamoto – any of whom could have turned out a skirt similar to the one Nasty Gal is currently stocking. Adidas has, in fact, produced a nearly identical version of the skirt in the past.
Moreover, it is worth noting that websites similarly situated to Nasty Gal, such as ASOS, are selling authentic versions of adidas skirts for roughly the same price, which could cause confusion for consumers as to the source of the Nasty Gal skirt. Confusion is, after all, the key inquiry in a trademark infringement lawsuit.
This would prove an easy win for adidas if they decide to file suit. Stay tuned …
UPDATE (10/3/16): Well, that did not take very long. On the heels of publication of this article, the infringing skirt has coincidentally disappeared from Nasty Gal's website, most likely after receiving a cease and desist letter from the sportswear giant and in order to avoid formal legal ramifications thereafter. Adidas is, after all, extremely protective of its intellectual property rights. We have reached out to both parties for a comment.