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Adidas and Asics Launch Trademark Battles

Companies sue over varying stripe designs.

Adidas AG and Asics Corp. are going to court in defense of their stripes.

This story first appeared in the October 2, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The holders of two of the more famed stripe trademarks have filed separate trademark infringement suits against Target Corp. and Dolce & Gabbana Srl, respectively.

Asics alleged in documents filed in federal court in Los Angeles on Sept. 29 that footwear from Dolce & Gabbana features an intersecting double stripe design that Asics described as confusingly similar to its own “famous stripe design.” The Japanese sneaker firm’s wares have sported the mark since 1966.

Target Corp., meanwhile, is in the crosshairs of the latest legal effort by Adidas to defend the trademarked three-stripe design that adorns its athletic wear and sneakers.

Adidas said in documents filed in federal court in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 30, that Target has produced and distributed goods that imitate its trademark parallel three-stripe mark. The complaint includes photos of footwear sold at Target that bear two and four stripes.

Adidas first used the three-stripe motif in 1952 and trademarked it in 1994. The companies wrangled over the issue from 2003 to 2006, a span during which they reached three separate settlement agreements prompted by Adidas’ litigation.

In each case “Target…agreed not to produce, manufacture, distribute or sell any footwear or apparel bearing the Three-Stripe Mark or any design, mark or feature that is a confusingly similar imitation of the Three-Stripe Mark,” the suit stated.

Both Adidas and Asics are seeking injunctions against the further usage of the marks, the delivery for destruction of any infringing stock, legal fees and other, unspecified damages. Adidas also is seeking a recall of all products found to be infringing.

A Target representative said the retailer had not been served with the complaint and that it was researching the matter. Attempts to contact Dolce & Gabbana weren’t successful.

In June, Adidas filed suit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. with a similar complaint over the placement of stripes on sneakers for sale at the retailer. In May, a federal judge in Portland court awarded Adidas $305 million in a trademark lawsuit against Payless ShoeSource Inc. Last month a judge denied Payless’ request for a new trial, on the condition that Adidas agree to an award of $65.3 million.