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Adidas walks back opposition to Black Lives Matter trademark filing


Left: Photo by: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 11/20/21 Big Business is seen at the Newport Mall in Jersey City, New Jersey on the week before Black Friday. Right: FILE – Seattle Sounders supporters fly a Black Lives Matter flag before an MLS soccer match against Atlanta United, May 23, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Adidas, the international sports apparel company, has withdrawn its opposition to a Black Lives Matter trademark filing that Adidas said was “confusingly similar” to its own logo.

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation had filed a notice with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in late 2020 notifying the administrative body of its intent to use as its logo the three yellow parallel horizontal stripes in publications, merchandise, educational services, and other purposes.

On Monday, Adidas filed notice that it intended to oppose the Black Lives Matter trademark, saying that the logo could confuse customers into thinking that the organization was linked to the sportswear company.

“Consumers familiar with the goods and services long associated with [Adidas’] Three-Stripe Mark are likely to assume that the goods and services under Applicant [Black Lives Matter’s] Mark originate from the same source, or that they are affiliated, connected, or associated with or sponsored by adidas,” said the notice of opposition, which was first reported by trademark attorney Josh Gerben.

Adidas claimed that consumers would likely believe that “any defect, objection, or fault found with the goods and services” offered under the proposed Black Lives Matter trademark “would reflect on and seriously injure adidas’s reputation,” the filing said, according to Gerben.

Within days, however, Adidas apparently had changed its mind.

On Wednesday, the company filed a notice of withdrawal of opposition. USPTO records indicate that the request was granted and the opposition was dismissed — without prejudice — that same day.

“Opposers adidas AG and adidas International Marketing BV respectfully request that Opposition No. 91284161 be withdrawn without prejudice,” the one-sentence motion said.

Adidas issued a similarly terse statement confirming it would walk back its opposition to the Black Lives Matter filing.

“Adidas will withdraw its opposition to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s trademark application as soon as possible,” spokesperson Rich Efrus said in a statement emailed to Law&Crime. Efrus declined to respond to questions about why the opposition was filed and what was behind the decision to withdraw.

The Black Lives Matter organization did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment.

Adidas, founded by German brothers and Nazi party members Adi and Rudi Dassler in the 1920s, made headlines in October for its ongoing relationship with Kanye West after the rapper, now known as Ye, made a series of antisemitic remarks. The sportswear company eventually cut ties with West, who would later appear on Alex Jones’ Infowars and praise Adolf Hitler, the Nazi party leader who masterminded the murder of millions of Jewish people and others.

West had also repeated the disproven theory that George Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose. Floyd was murdered in May of 2020 by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, sparking thousands of racial justice protests worldwide and amplifying the Black Lives Matter movement, which until then had been a relatively loosely-organized coalition of anti-racist social action efforts.

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