This is a so-called positioned trademark. This means that, in this case, Shoe Branding not only wants to protect the stripes but also especially wants to protect the particular placement of the stripes on the shoe. Adidas objected against the trademark application, on the basis of the following trademark registrations:
According to Adidas, the Belgian stripes are too similar to their stripe trademarks. European judges have come to the conclusion (based on many rulings concerning this shoe-conflict) that the consumer, because of the familiarity of the Adidas stripes trademarks, would make a connection between the shoes of Adidas and the shoes of Shoe Branding. This connection is caused by the similarity between the stripes: both sets of stripes are parallel to each other and share the same amount of distance between them. Because of this, the fact that Adidas always uses three stripes while the Belgian shoe always uses two is not relevant.
Shoe Branding did not agree with the judgment that the stripe trademark of Adidas was so well-known and filed an appeal. The Court of the EU now confirms that the stripes of Adidas form a familiar, well-known trademark. Because of this, the stripes – despite of their simple shape – have a certain distinctiveness. In other words: a consumer can tell that a shoe is from Adidas through the stripes. Shoe Branding benefits from the reputation of Adidas, due to the similarities between their stripe trademarks, ruled the Court. Interesting detail: Shoe Branding appears to have referred to the stripes of Adidas themselves in an advertising campaign in 2007. They used the slogan: “Two stripes are enough.” That is, according to the Court, an important proof that Shoe Branding in fact tried to benefit from the familiarity, reputation and status of Adidas.