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Now in its twelfth year, Class 46 is dedicated to European trade mark law and practice. This weblog is written by a team of enthusiasts who want to spread the word and share their thoughts with others.

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Anthonia Ghalamkarizadeh
Birgit Clark
Blog Administrator
Christian Tenkhoff
Fidel Porcuna
Gino Van Roeyen
Markku Tuominen
Niamh Hall
Nikos Prentoulis
Stefan Schröter
Tomasz Rychlicki
Yvonne Onomor
3 is famous and 5 is a zebra: On stripes as trademarks

Some (delayed) thoughts on the recent 5-stripes judgment of the General Court in Case T-85/13 K-Swiss, Inc. v. OHIM / K�nzli SwissSchuh AG, on which see Laetitia Lagarde's timely and informative note (citing the difference with the decision of the Swiss Supreme Court) and also that of Alberto Bellan on IPKat.

Readers of ths blog will recall that the General Court allowed the cancellation of K-Swiss 5-stripe trademark below, on the grounds that it does not live up to the required minimum degree of distinctive character since that design (5-stripes) does not depart significantly from the standard designs that are shown on the sides of these kind of products and will be perceived simply as decoration.

That is all well, but the 3-stripe trademark of adidas is widely recognized as a famous trademark amongst several jurisdictions in Europe (Greece being part of that company). This blogger can also recall a good number of court judgments across Europe finding likelihood of confusion between 3 and 4 stripes marks.


So, the question kind of raises itself: If 4 is an infringement of 3, how can 5 be decorative? Put in another way: If adidas initiates infringement proceedings (in the fantastic unified EU jurisdiction) aganst an entity producing/trading 4-striped footwear, it is most likely to succeed (as it has in the past). But if K-Swiss does the same, it will not succeed as its 5-stripe mark is devoid of distinctive character. Those scratching their heads with one hand, please raise the other.

Posted by: Nikos Prentoulis @ 12.03
Tags: General Court, T-85/13, K-Swiss, adidas, OHIM, stripes, position trademarks, famous trademarks, 5 stripes, 3 stripes, 4 stripes,
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Reader Comments: 1
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Submitted By: Ventsi
09 July 2014 @ 15.10
Excellent question. When I learned about this decision I was surprised that the mark was refused on absolute grounds but there wasn't any opposition by Adidas. At least for me, considering the reputation of the adidas brand, there is a similarity between both marks.

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