adidas  --  ELEAGUE

The German based sportswear company, adidas, has taken another large step in protecting its simple, yet iconic logo. On October 10th, adidas filed an opposition to ELAGUE’s, an electronic sports broadcaster, trademark application for its logo: an ‘E’ composed of three fragmented stripes.1 In the 139 page opposition, adidas labeled its design mark as “THE BRAND WITH THE 3 STRIPES,” and claimed ELEAGUE’s three-striped logo would likely cause confusion and dilution.2

Is adidas really justified in filing its opposition, or is this a case of trademark bullying? On the one hand, the logos don’t look terribly similar at first glance; the three-stripe formats are the same, but even then, the stripes aren’t the same thickness or facing the same direction. One logo seems to be three lines making a letter ‘A’ and the other is three lines making a letter ‘E.’ Are all letters made of three fragmented lines off limits according to adidas? Also, ELEAGUE is in the esports business, not apparel; is this really the type of company that could interfere with adidas’ market?3 It’s also worth noting that ELEAGUE has used the logo in events for the last 18 months and filed its trademark application in July 2016; if this logo were really such a concern for adidas, why would it take this long to file an opposition?4

On the other hand, trademark dilution isn’t something trademark owners should take lightly, especially if they have as iconic a logo as adidas. Even if there is a low chance of success, is it not reasonable for adidas to at least try to protect its logo’s uniqueness, even if it’s just to have a paper record of the attempt?5 Also, adidas’ claim of confusion isn’t completely off base- adidas has some connections to esports, primarily through its sponsorship of the FIFA Interactive World Cup tournament.6 And, with the growing popularity of esports, adidas’ claim that the esports market is “within the natural zone of expansion of adidas’ business and goods and services” seems fair.7

Although it’s reasonable for adidas to be protective of its logo, at this rate, what would adidas not oppose? Would, say, an extra box around the ELEAGUE logo’s ‘E’ suffice? What if ELEAGUE added small lines to connect the fragmented lines? Would different colored stripes help? ELEAGUE and adidas will likely reach a settlement (as most of these cases do), so we may never know what adidas would argue the limits to its trademark are.8 But as it stands, every future three-stripe logo may very well have to submit to adidas’ settlement terms, or pay exorbitant litigation costs to find out just what adidas actually has grounds to oppose.

  1. U.S. Trademark Notice of Opposition No. 91237135 (filed Oct. 10, 2017).
  2. Id. at 2, 26-27; Oliver Ring, Adidas Files Trademark Opposition Against Turner For Use Of “Three Stripes”, Esports Insider (Oct. 18, 2017),
  3. See Callum Leslie, Adidas Challenges ELEAGUE Trademark Filing, Dot Esports (Oct. 17, 2017, 7:43 AM),
  4. See id.
  5. See Joshua Nino, Adidas Files Trademark Opposition Against Turner Over ELEAGUE Logo, Dexerto (Oct. 16, 2017),
  6. Ring, supra note 2.
  7. Leslie, supra note 3.
  8. See Ring, supra note 2.