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Adidas loses EU court battle over ‘three stripe’ design

German sportswear giant Adidas on Wednesday lost a legal battle to trademark its "three stripe" motif in the EU, as a court ruled the design was not distinctive enough to deserve protection.

Adidas loses EU court battle over 'three stripe' design
Archive photo shows an Adidas shoe. Photo: DPA

The three parallel stripes seen adorning everything from running shoes to sports bags and the sleeves of t-shirts are “an ordinary figurative mark”, the General Court of the European Union ruled.

The court, the EU's second highest tribunal, upheld a 2016 ruling by the bloc's intellectual property regulator cancelling the registration of the three-stripe design as a trademark following a challenge by a Belgian shoe 
company.

“The General Court of the EU confirms the invalidity of the Adidas EU trade mark which consists of three parallel stripes applied in any direction,” the court said in a statement.

Adidas had not proved the motif had acquired a “distinctive character” throughout the 28 countries of the bloc that would qualify for legal protection, the court said.

SEE ALSO: Shoe-Bahn: Berliners queue for sneaker with sewn-in annual transit ticket

“The mark is not a pattern mark composed of a series of regularly repetitive elements, but an ordinary figurative mark,” the court said.

The ruling is the latest round in a long legal tussle between Adidas and Belgian rival Shoe Branding Europe, which as far back as 2009 won trademark status for a two-stripe design, triggering court action from the German firm.

Adidas, which is based in the small Bavarian city of Herzogenaurach near Nuremberg, can appeal against Wednesday's decision to the European Court of Justice, the bloc's highest court. 

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Foreigners officially resident in Europe not covered by new EES passport rules, EU Commission confirms

The European Commission has clarified that foreigners officially resident in the EU are not covered by EES - the far-reaching changes to passport control rules due to come into effect next year.

Foreigners officially resident in Europe not covered by new EES passport rules, EU Commission confirms

The EU’s new entry and exit system (EES) is due to come into effect in May 2023, followed by the new ETIAS system in November, and between them they will have a major effect on travel in and out of the EU and Schengen zone.

EES means automated passport scans at EU external borders, which will increase security and tighten up controls of the 90-day rule – you can find a full explanation of how they work HERE.

But the system is aimed at tourists and those making short visits to the EU / Schengen area – not non-EU citizens who live in an EU country or second-home owners with visas, and there had been questions around how those groups would use the new system.

Now the European Commission has confirmed that EES does not apply for non-EU citizens who are living in those countries taking part, telling us: “Non-EU nationals holders of residence permits are not in the scope of the Entry/Exit System and ETIAS. More about exceptions can be found on the website.

“When crossing the borders, holders of EU residence permits should be able to present to the border authorities their valid travel documents and residence permits.”

What this means in practice is that foreign nationals living in France, Germany or other EU /Schengen states cannot use the new automated passport gates that will be introduced with EES in May 2023.

The reason for this is that the automated passport gates only give the option to show a passport – it is not possible to also show a residency permit or a visa.

The automated system also counts how long people have stayed in the Schengen area, and whether they have exceeded their 90 day limit – since residents are naturally exempt from the 90-day rule, they need to avoid the 90-day ‘clock’ beginning when they enter the EU.

You can listen to the team at The Local discuss the pklanned new EU passport checks in the latest episode of our Talking France podcast. You can play the link below or download it here.

READ ALSO How does the EU 90-day rule work?

A Commission spokesman said: “EES is an automated IT system for registering non-EU nationals travelling for a short stay, each time they cross the external borders of European countries using the system (exemptions apply, see FAQ section).

“This concerns travellers who require a short-stay visa and those who do not need a visa. Refusals of entry are also recorded in the system.

“Non-EU citizens residing in the EU are not in the scope of the EES and will not be subject to pre-enrollment of data in the EES via self-service systems. The use of automation remains under the responsibility of the Member States and its availability in border crossing points is not mandatory.”

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