Dolce & Gabbana Wins Stripes Case

Fashion house D&G wins suit against Adidas over trademark lawsuit.

MILAN — Two or more parallel colored stripes are not enough to make the pattern an exclusive Adidas design in Italy, according to the Court of Milan.

This story first appeared in the May 13, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Dolce & Gabbana said Tuesday it had won a suit initiated in 2005 against the activewear company, which objected to the use by the Italian brand of two or more parallel colored stripes on Dolce & Gabbana and D&G products, considered too similar to those used by the German brand.

Dolce & Gabbana said the court ordered “to declare void all the trademarks featuring two parallel stripes registered in Italy by Adidas, due to the lack of distinctiveness and of novelty of such distinctive signs.” Adidas was also ordered to reimburse all of Dolce & Gabbana’s legal costs, duties and fees. The designers declined to comment further on the case.

Adidas first used the three-stripe motif in 1952 and trademarked it in 1994. In 2003, Adidas asked the Italian fashion house to withdraw from the German market a pair of men’s D&G pants marked by dual lateral gold bands. The German Supreme Court of Appeals stated the stripes featured on the D&G design could be confused with the three Adidas stripes.

The following year, Adidas filed new proceedings in Italy against Dolce & Gabbana questioning the brand’s choice to decorate a pair of men’s signature brand shoes with the colors of the Japanese flag and requested the model be withdrawn from the Italian market. According to Adidas, the colors of the flag could be confused with Adidas’ three stripes.

In 2005, the Italian company sued Adidas before the Court of Milan and requested “it declare void all the trademark featuring two parallel stripes registered in Italy by the German company.”