Back in 2001, mammoth sportswear brand Adidas alleged that Payless was offering a style of shoe which featured its Three Stripes trademark. Adidas claimed Payless’ intention was to deceive, confuse and mislead prospective buyers and buyers into believing that their shoes were in some way associated with Adidas and its trademark.
Following investigation, the jury found a total of 267 different styles and colors of Payless shoes could be likened to Adidas’ trademarks. Additionally, it was ruled that Adidas’ trademark was both very well known and non-functional, meaning its appropriation by another company caused irreparable damage to the brand’s reputation as a quality manufacturer.
In 2008, Adidas AG’s U.S. subsidiary was awarded $30.6 million in actual damages, $137 million in punitive damages, and $137 million in Payless profits, amounting to a total of $304.6 million dollars.
For more on some of the most important intellectual property cases of recent years, check out disputes previously featured in this series (including Dan Brown vs. Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, and Bratz vs. Barbie) and sign up for one of our IP law NY continuing legal education courses.