Designer Thom Browne Wins Adidas in Stripes Battle

Fashion designer Thom Browne has emerged from a New York court with victory over sportswear giant Adidas in the battle over signature stripes.

Browne told the Associated Press that he hopes preserving his striped designs on luxury sportswear and accessories will inspire others whose work is challenged by clothing manufacturers. bigger.

“It’s important to fight and tell your story,” Browne told The Associated Press after a Manhattan Federal Court jury sided with him.

Adidas has stated that the striped designs used by Thom Browne Inc are too similar to their own three stripes.


Fashion designer Thom Browne, second from right, arrives at Manhattan Federal Court in New York (Seth Wenig/AP)

“And I think it’s more important and bigger than me, because I think I’ve fought for every designer to create something and then there’s going to be a bigger company going after them,” Browne said.

Adidas indicated in a statement that its fight could continue.

“We are disappointed with the ruling and will continue to cautiously enforce our intellectual property rights, including filing an appropriate appeal,” Rich Efrus, an Adidas spokesman, wrote in an email.

Mr. Browne, a creative designer known for his runway shows, started selling clothes in 2001 at a store in Manhattan’s West Village.

He has become hugely successful, especially after a 2018 deal with luxury brand Zegna.

His company is present in more than 300 locations worldwide, including Tokyo, London, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Milan.

Adidas sued Mr Browne in June 2021, saying that his “Signature Four-Bar” – along with other products with parallel stripes on activewear including t-shirts, sweatpants and hoodies – has infringed its well-known trademark.

The two-week trial ended when an eight-person jury reached a verdict in less than two hours.


Thom Browne wears four-striped socks outside Manhattan Federal Court (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

Browne’s supporters broke out in joy before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff reprimanded them for violating courtroom etiquette.

Supporters then swarmed the hallways, some celebrating with hugs and tears.

The dispute goes back 15 years.

In 2007, Adidas complained that Mr. Browne had used a three-stripe design that was too similar to their design on the jacket.

Mr. Browne agreed to stop using it and switch to a four-stripe design.

For years, Adidas hasn’t contested it – but as Mr Browne rose to prominence following the 2018 sale, he began to expand further into activewear and the sportswear giant. sport has noticed.

Adidas argued in its lawsuit that Mr. Browne’s stripes could cause confusion for customers.

By contrast, Mr. Browne argues that the two companies are not direct competitors and do not serve the same market.


Fashion designer Thom Browne’s clothes taken to Manhattan federal court (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

For instance, a pair of women’s tights on Mr Browne’s website costs $725 (£590).

A pair of Adidas leggings is under $100 (£80) on that company’s website.

Jeff Trexler, a lecturer at the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, says the label landscape has become more nuanced in a changing market where companies regularly expand into new categories. – both in terms of content and pricing – and collaborate on special product lines with others.

More and more companies are not staying the way they started, he said, whether it’s fashion or soft drinks.

“It’s like in Ghostbusters, where you know if you cross a stream, everything will explode,” Mr. Trexler said.

As long as Mr. Browne puts stripes “on a man’s sports jacket and his narrow luxuries, maybe a pair of sweatpants,” Mr. Trexler said. there will be no crossing the stream.

But as he expanded more into activewear, the streams passed.

Mr Browne himself gave evidence during the trial, noting the importance of sport in his life and how it affected his career.


Thom Browne outside the courthouse in New York (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

The former swimmer said outside court that he grew up playing tennis and that the rest of his extended family enjoyed basketball, baseball and football.

“So it’s very real to who I am,” he said.

“That’s what inspires me every day about what I do.”

Mr Browne said he has many professional athletes among his friends and clients and considers them “a huge source of inspiration”.

Mr. Trexler noted that Mr. Browne’s lawyers had successfully convinced jurors that Mr. Browne was underdog.

“In short, Thom Browne’s attorney got the jury to see this case as People vs Corporation, and populism won,” he said after the verdict.

Mr Browne said he hoped the court fight was his last.

“I just want to design collections and I don’t want to be in the courtroom anymore,” he said. Designer Thom Browne Wins Adidas in Stripes Battle

Fry Electronics Team

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