Highsnobiety

This article was published on June 29, 2021, and updated on January 12, 2023

Thom Browne's signature striped branding sparked a $7 million+ lawsuit from adidas that went to court in 2023, first reported by The Fashion Law. In the suit, filed in mid-2021, adidas argued that Browne's stripes "imitates" its own inimitable Three Stripes logo, despite the two companies existing in pretty different markets.

Further, adidas claimed that, by continuing to use its four-bar branding, Thom Browne is swiping from the Three Stripes' "widespread fame and tremendous public recognition" and "extremely valuable goodwill" that adidas garnered from "millions of dollars" of public promotion (i.e. people wearing its clothing).

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Instagram post.

Thom Browne's offering has indeed expanded to include striped sportswear in recent years, while mainline fare has always incorporated at least some athleisure items, always replete with four horizontal bars.

Browne's sweatsuits and cardigans remain perennial best-sellers, for instance, and they make ample use of that striped branding.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Instagram post.

Browne also deepened its partnership with F.C. Barcelona in recent years.

Though Nike currently sponsors the club, adidas-endorsed Messi was with Barcelona at the time that Browne began providing its players with off-pitch suiting.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Instagram post.

Still, the lawsuit seems especially strange because adidas and Browne don't really read as competitors.

adidas' affordable hoodies, sweatpants, workout gear, and sneakers are all pretty distinct from Browne's luxurious shrunken suiting and couture-level statement pieces.

Representatives for both adidas and Thom Browne declined to comment to Highsnobiety on the ongoing case.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Instagram post.

It's worth reiterating that adidas is famously litigious, perhaps even more so than Nike.

adidas has battled nearly every brand to even consider using a design that mildly recalls its Three Stripes, including Skechers and J. Crew, though adidas' legal capers haven't always been successful.

adidas also claims to have been "investigating" Browne's output since 2018, even opposing Browne's attempts to file European trademarks for its branding and engaging in "fruitless" negotiations with Browne over the stripes. In December 2020, adidas prevented Browne from successfully filing a similar trademark in America.

adidas' case against Thom Browne finally came to court in early 2023, with lawyers for each company convening in Manhattan's Southern District Court on January 3. Browne himself was in attendance.

The summation of adidas' case, according to the opening remarks, is that the German sportswear giant believes that Browne intentionally used adidas-adjacent branding to bring more attention to its sportswear line, leading to consumer confusion (though adidas acknowledges that it generally operates a different market to Browne).

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Instagram post.

In return, Browne's attorney referenced an agreement that Browne and adidas made in 2007 when Browne received adidas' blessing to continue using horizontal-striped branding after he added a fourth stripe to his logo.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Instagram post.

According to Browne's representation adidas missed the boat on clashing with Browne when it cleared him to use his four-striped logo over a decade ago, emphatically underscoring that the two companies aren't competitors and, thus, adidas' lawsuit ought to be dismissed.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Instagram post.

After a relatively swift trial, Thom Browne triumphed over adidas on January 12, with the jury finding that Browne's four-bar logo doesn't infringe adidas' trademark three stripes.

In return, he owes adidas zero damages. However, the door is open for adidas to appeal the decision should it choose to.

We Recommend
  • From HOKA to adidas, Browse This Week’s Best Sneaker Releases
    • Sneakers
  • 10 Designer Travel Accessories to Flex Hard in the Departure Lounge
    • Style
  • Thom Browne's First Time in Milan Was a World-Class Snooze (EXCLUSIVE)
    • Style
  • A Luxury Keychain Is a Smart Way to Flaunt Your Favorite Label
    • Style
  • Storage Wars: 18 Crossbody Bags to Store Your Daily Essentials
    • Style
What To Read Next
  • Nike's Beloved Court Shoe Just Got a Incredibly Stylish Upgrade
    • Sneakers
  • This Parisian Merch Has a Love-Hate Relationship With the City
    • Style
  • The Jordan 4's Skate Shoe Era Only Gets Better
    • Sneakers
  • A Low-Rise Jordan Icon Is Back After a Decade
    • Sneakers
  • Dreaming Big With JW Anderson
    • Style
  • At Martine Rose, Nike's Hybrid Air Max Sneaker Suddenly Appeared
    • Sneakers
*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to info@highsnobiety.com

Web Accessibility Statement

Titel Media GmbH (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, www.highsnobiety.com. Titel Media GmbH strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titel Media GmbH tests, remediates and maintains the Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Disclaimer

Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at accessibility@highsnobiety.com, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.