Adidas U-turns after fighting against Black Lives Matter’s merchandise designs

Shoes line a wall in an Adidas store on August 12, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
Adidas asked officials not to approve Black Lives Matter's trademark application.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Adidas has U-turned on its objection to the Black Lives Matter movement’s logo, 48 hours after asking U.S. officials to reject the group’s application to trademark a three-stripe design.

In a filing submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Adidas argued that its so-called Three-Stripe Mark, which it has been using since 1952, “enjoys wide public acceptance and association with Adidas.”

It urged the Trademark Office to reject activist group Black Lives Matter (BLM) Global Network Foundation’s application to trademark a design of three parallel yellow stripes that it uses on merchandise including bags, clothing, mugs, and other products.

Adidas argued in the filing that BLM’s design was “likely to cause confusion” as it resembled its own branding so closely, and sought to block the group’s application to trademark its use on items that both organizations sell.

It argued that BLM’s use of the design could lead consumers to believe there was a link between the company and the group’s goods.

However, a spokesperson for Adidas confirmed in an email to Fortune on Wednesday that the German sportswear giant would be withdrawing its opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement’s trademark application “as soon as possible.”

A source close to the company told news agency Reuters that Adidas had decided to reverse course due to concerns the public could misconstrue its opposition to BLM’s trademark application as criticism of what the group stood for.

Representatives for the Black Lives Matter group were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Fortune.

BLM filing in 2020

BLM initially applied to a federal trademark for its yellow three-stripe design in November 2020.

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is a leading faction of the decentralized Black Lives Matter movement, which was founded in 2013 in protest against police violence against Black people.

Adidas has long been protective of its iconic three-stripe logo.

Since 2008, the company has filed more than 90 lawsuits and settled more than 200 disputes relating to the design, according to court documents filed when it sued New York fashion house Thom Browne over a similar design.

A jury ruled in January that Adidas could not stop the designer from using a four-stripe design on its clothing, capping off a 15-year legal battle.

Adidas is facing troubles elsewhere after it announced the end of its relationship with rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, would see its revenues hit by around $1.3 billion this year.

The company also recently cut ties with superstar Beyoncé, who teamed up with Adidas in 2019 to market her Ivy Park clothing brand.

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