Don’t even think about creating shoes with Adidas style stripes on the sides. Payless Shoe Stores learned that the hard way, as U of MN law professor, William McGeveran, explains on the “Info/Law” blog:
The Oregonian reports that Adidas won an astronomical $305 million trademark infringement verdict against discount retailer Payless Shoes this morning. Trademark blogger Marty Schwimmer canâ€™t think of another infringement verdict even close to this size, and neither can I. Most trademark litigators would consider any case worth more than $25 million a very big one.
What surprises me is that the jury found Payless to be infringing on Adidas’ trademark even when they used 2 stripes or four (pdf) rather than the 3 that define the Adidas brand. While the intent is clearly there to ride on the Adidas brand is clear to me, aren’t knock-off brands like the ones at Payless simply a gateway to the major brands? If so, could knocking Payless out of the knock-off shoe business actually hurt the demand for Adidas long term?