The Stripes That Never Were

March 8, 2017

Recently, Tesla applied for a three-stripe trademark to identify its new vehicle, MODEL 3. This trademark received the attention of Adidas who moved to file an opposition against this application based on their previous trademark.

A trademark allows its owner to prevent any third party from exploring the same mark or any that can cause confusion in the consumers’ mind as to the origin of the products or services identified with the trademark.

While it is debatable that consumers wouldn’t buy a car thinking it was an Adidas car, it is arguable that Tesla could, in theory, sell merchandise related to its car model, including clothing apparel. With this in mind, Adidas filed an opposition to defend their market position and trademark rights.

Tesla, however, avoided any legal issue by abandoning its trademark application. Claiming marketing decisions, prior to the opposition filing, they have changed the three stripes mark to a numeric “3”.

From here on out, it looks like Tesla dodged a bullet and won’t face a long, drawn out negotiation with Adidas or, even further, a legal battle for the right to exclusively explore an horizontal three-stripe logo. This round goes to Adidas by forfeit.


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