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adidas Gets Sued Over Ad Campaign

Source: adidas / adidas

The Fashion Law has reported that the owner of the trademark “I<3” is suing Adidas for “willfully, maliciously, and oppressively” using “///<3” along with the letters “NYC” in its August 2018 Bodega-inspired advertising campaign for its popular Ultra Boost sneakers. According to the complaint filed in a New York federal court, Paul Ingrisano argued that adidas “knowingly disregarded” his rights in the mark and the harm that would result from its unauthorized use of it.

Ingrisano claimed that adidas “directly or indirectly, without [his] consent,” developed and started using the symbol “///<3” together with the initials “NYC” in its advertising campaign for athletic apparel and the Ultra Boost running shoes. The Brooklyn-based artist and entrepreneur alleges that adidas’ infringing uses include everything from social media posts and billboards to promotion trucks in New York City.

Entitled the Ultra Boost “Bodega Pack,” the footwear at issue consists of colorful Primeknit uppers inspired by New York City convenience stores, and was advertised by way of a “/// <3 NYC” – which translates to adidas loves NYC – ad campaign.

While sneaker sites were quick to celebrate and spotlight the campaign, Ingrisano is not amused. Adidas’ use of “///<3” in connection with “NYC” is particularly confusing, he declares, as he regularly “combines his trademark with the names of cities and other geographic locations, including, without limitation, the initials ‘NYC.’” More than that, the products/services on which they are using the mark – “promotion and sale of athletic apparel” and footwear – are the same, thereby, leading to heightened risk of confusion, per Ingrisano, which is significant, as the likelihood that consumers will be confused as to the source of the allegedly infringing products (adidas’ in this case) is central to a trademark infringement claim.

As a result, Ingrisano is seeking injunctive relief, which would serve to prohibit adidas from using “///<3” or any other confusingly similar trademark that is confusingly similar to promote athletic apparel, as well as monetary damages.

Read the full report by the Fashion Law here.

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