Adidas Vs. Ohio State: Trademark Fight Over Three-Stripes Design
Adidas and The Ohio State University are now engaged in a trademark dispute. On November 7, an opposition was filed by Adidas against Ohio State in an effort to block Ohio State from having a design mark registered.
The mark originally filed by Ohio State “consists of a stripe design containing distinct bands of the colors black, white, and red,” as described in the trademark application.
The design mark applied for by Ohio State appears to the right. Ohio State filed an actual use trademark application for use of the design mark in connection with clothing and headgear. Adidas now stands in the way of Ohio State receiving such a registration.
Adidas, in its opposition, claims that Ohio State’s design mark is too similar to Adidas’ three-stripes mark and is likely to lead to consumer confusion. The shoe and apparel brand is trying to convince the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that consumers may believe Ohio State is associated with Adidas based on use of the mark.
This is certainly a case of Adidas doing what it apparently believes is necessary to prosecute any potential similarity between a design mark and its popular three-stripe mark. That three-stripe mark is absolutely one of the more recognized marks in all of sports. However, this particular trademark opposition seems like quite the stretch and rather unnecessary for Adidas to show its continued prosecution against marks that may be likely to deceive consumers.
“In view of the similarities between the adidas 3-Stripes Mark and the Applicant’s Mark and the fact that their respective goods overlap, there is a likelihood that Applicant’s Goods will be perceived as being sponsored by or affiliated with adidas,” states the opposition.
Ohio State is sponsored by Adidas rival Nike. The school and Nike came to a fifteen year, $252 million deal in 2016. Thus, it is hard to understand how or why consumers would be confused as to whether Adidas is a sponsor, because there is Nike branding on the goods sold in connection with Ohio State.
Ohio State also has recent experience being the opposer to the registration of a trademark. In September, Ohio State filed a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board action against the University of Oklahoma, stating that it is concerned there will be a likelihood of confusion with its popularized “O” logo should Oklahoma’s mark register with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.