University of the Arts London Own It - Creative London Intellectual Property Advice Service Creative London

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Rivals tell Adidas: three stripes and you’re out

8 December 2004

A dispute over intellectual property could force a change in the design of the official uniform of future Olympic Games. Puma, Nike and Reebok have demanded that the Adidas ‘three stripe’ design be removed from official sportswear at forthcoming events, including the 2006 winter games in Turin, because it breaches International Olympic Committee sponsorship rules.

Under the rules, sportswear is only allowed to show sponsor logos that measure no more than 20 square centimetres, but Adidas sponsored tracksuits have a logo plus three stripes down the arms and trouser legs. The company claims that the stripes are merely a ‘design element’ of the tracksuits, and so not covered by the rules. But rivals say that the stripes are an Adidas trademark and so should be covered by the size restrictions.

Puma’s corporate communications director Ulf Santjer told the Associated Press: "This is an advantage for Adidas. And for the other brands, it's a disadvantage because we have less space to show off our logo, and so less product visibility… Adidas has registered that design in 104 countries so it's clear they think of it as a trademark."

A spokesperson for Britain’s community of Adidas-wearing boy racers could not immediately be reached for comment.

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