California shoemaker hit by Adidas three-stripe lawsuit

Stopping any company from trademark infringement keeps mega-sportswear maker Adidas busy. The German-based company has already taken more than 300 U.S. companies to court over its logo. The latest trademark dispute is against a five-person shoe company in Chino, California.

The case is built around the three-stripe design that Adidas has included in its logo and on its products for more than 50 years. Adidas claims Radii Footwear has developed two sneaker styles that look too much like Adidas’s own striped design.

Four years ago, Adidas sued the owners of Payless ShoeSource for trademark infringement and collected a record-breaking award of more than $300 million. Not long after, Sears-owned Kmart settled out of court with Adidas in a trademark dispute over two- and four-striped sneakers. The settlement was never made public.

Court documents say that by 2008, Adidas had already gone after 325 U.S. shoe manufacturers for infringement, 45 of those resulted in settlements and 35 were lawsuits.

Since that time, Radii Footwear says that Adidas has used these cases to strong-arm competitors who use any number of slanted stripes on its shoes out of the marketplace. Adidas claims Radii’s “420 Piped” and “Straight Jacket” sneaker models are three-stripe infringements, which Radii denies.

Adidas America, based in Portland, has filed the case in Oregon. Radii, a California-based company, attempted to change the venue but was denied. Radii is a small operation with less than 75 national retailers. The company’s sales topped out at $550,000 last year.

Radii’s CEO said the company had asked for and received permission from Adidas to market its sneaker styles, only to have Adidas change its mind in mid-production.

Source: OregonLive.com, “Adidas accuses Radii Footwear in trademark case,” Allan Brettman, 24 June 2011