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Adidas Retracts Opposition to Black Lives Matter Three-Stripe Design

A shot of the Adidas logo on a glass storefront.
Adidas retracts opposition to Black Lives Matter three-stripe design. (Shutterstock)

Sportswear maker Adidas AG on Wednesday reversed course 48 hours after asking the US Trademark Office to reject a Black Lives Matter application for a trademark featuring three parallel stripes.

“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, without giving a reason for the decision.

A source close to the company said the rapid about-turn was triggered by concern that people could misinterpret Adidas’ trademark objection as criticism of Black Lives Matter’s mission.

Adidas had told the trademark office in a Monday filing that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s yellow-stripe design was confusingly similar to its own famous three-stripe mark.

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It sought to block the group’s application to use the design on goods that the German sportswear maker also sells, such as shirts, hats and bags.

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is the most prominent entity in the decentralised Black Lives Matter movement, which arose a decade ago in protest against police violence against Black people.

The group applied for a federal trademark in November 2020 covering a yellow three-stripe design to use on a variety of products including clothing, publications, bags, bracelets and mugs.

Representatives of the Black Lives Matter group did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Adidas said in the filing that it has been using its logo since 1952, and that the Black Lives Matter design would likely make shoppers think their goods were connected or came from the same source.

Adidas has filed over 90 lawsuits and signed more than 200 settlement agreements related to the three-stripe trademark since 2008, according to court documents from a lawsuit the company brought against designer Thom Browne’s fashion house.

A jury in that case decided in January that Thom Browne’s stripe patterns did not violate Adidas’ trademark rights.

By Blake Brittain and Helen Reid; Editor: David Gregorio, David Holmes and Christina Fincher

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