The troubled stripes


Quoc Huy Ngo, Feature Editor

Erie, Pa, April 2, 2023 – Adidas made an unexpected U-turn in the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLMGN) logo dispute. Forty-eight hours after asking the U.S. Trademark Office to reject the BLMGN’s logo application, the sportswear giant decided to withdraw its opposition.

However, the company overturned its opposition without prejudice, which means it could still challenge the trademark on the same grounds in the future. While this rapid move rose confusion among fashion enthusiasts, the company refused to make any further comment on this decision.

“Adidas will withdraw its opposition to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s trademark application as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.

On March 27, Adidas proposed to the U.S. Trademark Office to reject the trademark application for BLMGN’s logo. The German company believes that the yellow three-stripe design of this entity would cause confusion with its well-known white three-stripe trademark.

Black Lives Matter Global Network is one of the most prominent entities in the decentralized Black Lives Matter movement. The organization submitted a design featuring a yellow three-stripe to the U.S. Trademark Office as an official logo that would be put on their apparel and accessories. In opposition, Adidas stressed the proposed design might create confusion for consumers and dilute the exclusivity of the brand’s logo.

Adidas describes the BLMGN logo as “confusingly similar to the Three-Stripe Mark in appearance and overall commercial impression.”

The company added that consumers who are familiar with its products might be “likely to assume” that those offered under the applicant’s mark “originate from the same source, or that they are affiliated, connected, or associated with or sponsored by Adidas.”

While the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gave BLMGN Foundation until May 6 to respond, the foundation did not make any immediate comment to the challenge.

BLM rose to prominence after the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old who was shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida. After the tragic death of George Floyd, the movement gained further support in the summer of 2020. BLMGN has become a prominent entity in decentralized this historic social movement.

This is not the first time Adidas file a lawsuit against other entities for its logo. In January, the sportswear giant lost a court case to stop the luxury brand Thom Browned from using a design featuring a four-stripe logo. The German company argued that Browne’s four-stripes were too familiar to its three-stripe image. Documents showed that Adidas has launched over 90 lawsuits and signed 200 settlement agreements related to its trademark since 2008.