Adidas does rapid U-turn in Black Lives Matter logo dispute

12 April 2021, Berlin: The company’s logo hangs on the façade of the Adidas store on Tauentzienstrasse. Big brand manufacturers like Adidas, Miele and Co. are increasingly bypassing retailers and selling directly to consumers. (to dpa “Brand manufacturers sell more directly to end customers”) Photo: Christophe Gateau/dpa (Photo by Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Originally Published: 29 MAR 23 09:12 ET

    (CNN) — Adidas is backpedaling fast over its latest attempt to protect its iconic three-stripe mark.

The German sportswear company said Wednesday it was dropping its opposition to an attempt by a Black Lives Matter campaign group to trademark a logo featuring three parallel stripes.

“Adidas will withdraw its opposition to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s trademark application as soon as possible,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Adidas filed a complaint with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Monday, arguing that the foundation’s logo was “likely to cause confusion” with its own three-stripe logo featured on its apparel.

It said the foundation’s mark was likely to “dilute the distinctiveness” of its logo as consumers would be less likely to associate a three-stripe design exclusively with Adidas.

Adidas asked the trademark office to prevent the foundation from including its three-stripe mark on items that it sells, including t-shirts and bags.

The foundation did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Adidas retracted its complaint over fears that it could be seen as an objection to the cause of Black Lives Matter (BLM), Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source close to the company.

Adidas declined to comment further to CNN.

BLM is a decentralized movement that emerged a decade ago on Twitter in protest against police violence toward Black people in the United States. The movement went global in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd. The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports the wider BLM movement.

Playing defense

Another PR misstep was the last thing Adidas needed.

Earlier this year, the company was criticized for being too slow to dump its Yeezy brand, created in partnership with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, after he made antisemitic remarks.

When it did cut ties with Ye, Adidas said the move could lead to its first annual operating loss in 31 years. Earlier this month, Adidas said it expected to post an operating loss of €700 million ($761 million) in 2023 because of a potential €500 million ($543 million) hit related to unsold Yeezy stock, as well as the cost of a strategic review.

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