Adidas can’t seem to shake a trademark case.
Levy accused the multinational company of infringing on his “You’re Never Done” trademark, which also included the initials “YND.”
In 2014, Levy said he came up with the idea of promoting athletic apparel and accessories by way of the “You’re Never Done” phrase. Then, in 2016, he applied for trademark protection. The protection would include similar phrases, such as “Never Done,” “We’re Never Done” and “I’m Never Done.”
That same year, Levy began speaking with various companies about licensing the trademark for promotional use. One of those companies was Agron Inc., the exclusive licensing agency for Adidas.
But the meetings never materialized into a business deal.
“Soon thereafter, Levy came to understand why Adidas was never more than lukewarm to the licensing deal: Adidas had copied Levy’s ‘You’re Never Done’ and variant marks, affixed them to a new line of Adidas-branded athletic apparel and gear, and commenced a multimedia ‘Never Done’ advertising campaign for the products, selling them on the Internet and through retailers within and outside of the United States,” court documents state.
The documents went on to claim “Adidas flooded the market for athletic apparel and gear with variants of the marks on products remarkably similar to Levy’s, driving traffic to the Adidas web site with the hashtag #NeverDone.”
“Adidas’ actions demonstrate an intentional, willful and malicious intent to trade on the goodwill associated with the marks to the great and irreparable injury to [Levy],” the documents state.
Levy said Adidas was not authorized to use the phrase. He added that using a similar phrase would dilute the market and likely confuse consumers, who would be led to believe that Adidas’ campaign was some kind of collaboration with Levy. The possibility of source confusion is an essential element for determining trademark violation.
In addition, under U.S. trademark laws, trademark holders are expected to regulate their trademark by reporting violations.
Levy asked for a trial by jury and damages, including legal fees.
But Adidas countered with a motion to dismiss, arguing that the infringing actions did not take place in the U.S. or impact commerce in the U.S. — one requirement for receiving trademark protection under the Lanham Act.
U.S. trademark laws are primarily governed by the Lanham Act, a federal statute enacted in the Forties, which prohibits trademark infringement, dilution and false advertising, among other things. However, each country has its own trademark laws and protections.
Even so, this week a judge denied Adidas’ motion to dismiss the case, saying that the fashion company’s “primary defense in this case appears to be that it only used [Levy’s] marks abroad.”
“As the court has previously noted, the Lanham Act obviously applies to infringing conduct that takes place within the United States and can apply to infringing conduct that takes place abroad under some circumstances,” Judge Philip Gutierrez wrote in his decision.
Gutierrez’s verdict leaves the door open for Levy to continue pursuing litigation.
Adidas declined to comment.