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Nike Forced to Manufacture Signature adidas Design Element

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I'm talking about the triple striped socks in the New England Patriots' away uniform.

How is it possible that Nike is being forced to include a design element that is essentially an adidas trademark in the Patriots uniforms?

The Pats' current away uniforms were designed by adidas in the late 90's and debuted in the year 2000. They feature a signature adidas design element: three stripes on each sock. In case you think this is silly, that nobody can trademark the number of stripes on a sock, adidas markets itself as "the brand with the three stripes" and three stripes, not only on socks, but on t-shirts, shorts, pants, and jackets is an adidas branded design element. It may or may not be an officially registered trademark but adidas has aggressively sued other companies who design clothing that even remotely comes close to looking like their three stripes.

So why did Reebok agree to keep making the triple striped socks when they took over the NFL uniform contract from adidas in 2002? Adidas ended up buying Reebok in 2005 so it makes sense that the triple striped socks would stay after that but now that Nike is in control, why are they continuing to make a symbol of a competitor on such a high profile team?

Considering how Nike loves to "fix" what isn't broken I'm sure the subject has come up many times. So why do you guys think Nike hasn't changed the design of the away socks by now?

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Because, although it's Adidas's "signature" design element, it's still nothing more than a standard, traditional design element.. Similar to the double-stripe pants worn by Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, and many others.. Or the Braisher stripes worn by the packers, browns, cowboys, etc.. You could ask the same question about the three stripes with the Bears uniforms, 49ers jerseys, and probably some others.. Not to mention that the teams/league can demand their preferred uniform design, so if the patriots like the triple stripe, they'll get the triple stripe.. Plus, it's really only an issue if Nike's marketing the triple stripe product commercially and profiting from it.. But since it's actually Adidas's original design and Nike's essentially being forced to market Adidas for free, I doubt Adidas will be sending a cease and desist letter any time soon..

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Because, although it's Adidas's "signature" design element, it's still nothing more than a standard, traditional design element.. Similar to the double-stripe pants worn by Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, and many others.. Or the Braisher stripes worn by the packers, browns, cowboys, etc.. You could ask the same question about the three stripes with the Bears uniforms, 49ers jerseys, and probably some others.. Not to mention that the teams/league can demand their preferred uniform design, so if the patriots like the triple stripe, they'll get the triple stripe.. Plus, it's really only an issue if Nike's marketing the triple stripe product commercially and profiting from it.. But since it's actually Adidas's original design and Nike's essentially being forced to market Adidas for free, I doubt Adidas will be sending a cease and desist letter any time soon..

The football teams of Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, etc. aren't businesses that market themselves as "The Teams With The Double-Stripe Pants". The double-stripes on their pants are just a uniform design element, not a symbol of their brand. Three stripes, whether on shoes, clothing, shoeboxes, or in their logos, are synonymous with adidas because adidas products have had three stripes for decades and the official slogan of the company is "The Brand With The Three Stripes". What if Nike was told to redesign a soccer team's uniforms and were told the team now wanted triple stripes down the shoulders and sides of the jersey, down the sides of the shorts, and around the tops of the socks? Do you think Nike would be cool about presenting that as a Nike design? Of course not, because it would look like a signature adidas uniform! Nike doesn't want to get sued! Adidas may not legally be able to "claim" the triple stripe look as their intellectual property but that doesn't stop the average person from associating the triple stripe look with adidas.

The problem with your analogy to the Bears and 49ers triple stripes is, unlike the current Patriots away uniform socks, these stripes didn't debut with a brand new uniform set designed by adidas. So adidas can't claim the triple stripes on the Bears and 49ers as their mark because they didn't put them there. The whole reason I made this thread in the first place is it's no coincidence that triple striped socks were included in an adidas-designed American football uniform set. It was their little way to put an adidas touch on the uniform in addition to the usual adidas logo patches. If adidas anticipated that rival companies would continue to include this adidas touch and thereby continue to showcase their brand on a national stage long after adidas stopped manufacturing the uniforms, it is one of the greatest decisions in sports uniform design history. Nike *IS* marketing adidas for free when it comes to these socks, and I totally agree with you that adidas is not complaining!

Why do you think adidas was all up on Robert Griffin III's junk when he entered the NFL? They were absolutely DROOLING over the possibility that they could have a symbol of their brand, the III in his name acting as the triple stripe, displayed prominently on the back of his Nike jersey! And Nike wouldn't be able to do a thing about it because it was part of his legal name!

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Perhaps the Patriots like it and told Nike to go pound sand?

LOL!

The simplest theory is most often the correct one. :)

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Perhaps the Patriots like it and told Nike to go pound sand?

LOL!

The simplest theory is most often the correct one. :)

I think that's a simpler way of saying what I said.. A triple stripe design is nothing new and nothing exclusive to Adidas.. The fact that they embrace it and have worked it into various designs is irrelevant.. I never considered the patriots socks to be Adidas-inspired.. I just saw a pair of socks with a monochrome striping pattern.. Adidas may have designed it, but the patriots like it and kept it when Nike took over.. Simple as that

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Perhaps the Patriots like it and told Nike to go pound sand?

LOL!

The simplest theory is most often the correct one. :)

I think that's a simpler way of saying what I said.. A triple stripe design is nothing new and nothing exclusive to Adidas.. The fact that they embrace it and have worked it into various designs is irrelevant.. I never considered the patriots socks to be Adidas-inspired.. I just saw a pair of socks with a monochrome striping pattern.. Adidas may have designed it, but the patriots like it and kept it when Nike took over.. Simple as that
Nice try but aawagner said it best.

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In this case, the striping is a design element, not a branding logo. Adidas may use the three stripes as part of their branding, but this does not mean that they own the right to say that the element cannot be used by anyone else as striping. Let's use the Bears as an example:

usatsi_8020558.jpg?itok=b6apcLNy

The Bears use the three-stripe design as part of their brand. What I am trying to say here is that when Nike became the manufacturer, the striping scheme was not going to change due to Chicago wearing it before Adidas was ever founded. I am sure that if there was a three-stripe uniform made by Nike today for another NFL team, Adidas would not care because the team gets more say in the uniform in terms of design. Just because Adidas uses it, does not mean they get to dictate every use of the stripes.

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20_22350a_lg.jpeg

they've done it before...

adidas may use 3 stripes a lot, but they don't own them.

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...and Reebok was forced to keep the Denver Broncos "swoosh" style designed by Nike, with some of the swooshes the Nike logo.

If it were really an adidas branding element, as your tin foil hat seems to suggest, why would it only be on the socks for the road uniform, and NOWHERE ELSE?

Sometimes, three stripes are just three stripes.

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Yes. They even have that funky pattern on the ankles.

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In this case, the striping is a design element, not a branding logo. Adidas may use the three stripes as part of their branding, but this does not mean that they own the right to say that the element cannot be used by anyone else as striping. Let's use the Bears as an example:

usatsi_8020558.jpg?itok=b6apcLNy

The Bears use the three-stripe design as part of their brand. What I am trying to say here is that when Nike became the manufacturer, the striping scheme was not going to change due to Chicago wearing it before Adidas was ever founded. I am sure that if there was a three-stripe uniform made by Nike today for another NFL team, Adidas would not care because the team gets more say in the uniform in terms of design. Just because Adidas uses it, does not mean they get to dictate every use of the stripes.

My biggest problem with your example is the Bears triple stripes have white outlines. As far as I can recall, adidas has never put outlines on their stripes, bringing up yet another question: do the outlines make the Bears triple stripes different enough from adidas that adidas can't sue them or the company that manufactures their uniforms for trademark infringement? (Yes, I know the Bears had triple stripes on their jerseys before adidas made the three stripes their trademark, I'm just opening up another can of worms.)

Regardless of that, the three stripe design element is a registered trademark of adidas and they frequently and aggressively sue other companies who may or may not be infringing on this trademark.

The following Wikipedia article has some very pertinent information about all this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_stripes

It's been a design element for just about...ever. Adidas can't just come in and act like they own it.

X00004_9.jpeg

They can when it's been their registered trademark for over 60 years.

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Perhaps the Patriots like it and told Nike to go pound sand?

LOL!

The simplest theory is most often the correct one. :)

I think that's a simpler way of saying what I said.. A triple stripe design is nothing new and nothing exclusive to Adidas.. The fact that they embrace it and have worked it into various designs is irrelevant.. I never considered the patriots socks to be Adidas-inspired.. I just saw a pair of socks with a monochrome striping pattern.. Adidas may have designed it, but the patriots like it and kept it when Nike took over.. Simple as that

I would says it's a bit different from using three stripes on a piece of clothing and Nike incorporating those three stripes into its logo. Then there could be a problem. It comes down to the context of use.

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20_22350a_lg.jpeg

they've done it before...

adidas may use 3 stripes a lot, but they don't own them.

It's been their registered trademark for over 60 years.

That means they do own them, and they have been aggressively suing other companies since 1983 over trademark infringement, even when a company was only using two stripes on their products! In case you think there is no way adidas won that case, they did!

By the way, your example above: did adidas design and manufacture that jersey the very first year it was worn on the ice?

If it debuted before 1949, the year adidas registered the three stripes as a trademark, could adidas still sue the Blackhawks and make them either remove the triple stripes or pay a licensing fee to adidas to keep them on the jersey? Can adidas sue retroactively, or are the Blackhawks grandfathered in because they had the triple stripes before adidas registered them as a trademark?

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Perhaps the Patriots like it and told Nike to go pound sand?

LOL!

The simplest theory is most often the correct one. :)

I think that's a simpler way of saying what I said.. A triple stripe design is nothing new and nothing exclusive to Adidas.. The fact that they embrace it and have worked it into various designs is irrelevant.. I never considered the patriots socks to be Adidas-inspired.. I just saw a pair of socks with a monochrome striping pattern.. Adidas may have designed it, but the patriots like it and kept it when Nike took over.. Simple as that
Nice try but aawagner said it best.
He certainly said it more concisely, but I stated the same thing in my initial response.. If the patriots want triple stripes, they get triple stripes.. I just find it odd to disagree with me, then agree with someone saying the same thing as me..

Interestingly though, in the link provided earlier in this thread, Adidas defended its use of the three stripes on Olympic apparel as just a design element, rather than branding - so even Adidas (when convenient) recognizes that a triple stripe pattern can exist as a common design element..

Also, I noticed that their trademark references three parallel stripes running longitudinally, so the patriots laterally-oriented stripes don't match the trademark's definition.. Although I have no idea how that difference would play out in a legal scenario

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...and Reebok was forced to keep the Denver Broncos "swoosh" style designed by Nike, with some of the swooshes the Nike logo.

If it were really an adidas branding element, as your tin foil hat seems to suggest, why would it only be on the socks for the road uniform, and NOWHERE ELSE?

Sometimes, three stripes are just three stripes.

I like how your evidence, the Broncos side stripes actually being a giant swoosh logo, has never been proven to be true. So it doesn't matter that Reebok was "forced" to keep making the same uniform because no one has ever come out and explicitly admitted that the side stripes are indeed meant to be the swoosh.

That's like saying I know aliens are real because I saw a blinking light in the sky the other night. No, you didn't see aliens, you just saw a blinking light. And just like with the Broncos uniforms, you aren't looking at a giant swoosh, you're just seeing orange side stripes at a weird angle.

And you accuse ME of wearing a tin foil hat?

Let me break it down for you: adidas designed and manufactured the Patriots current uniforms and they debuted in the year 2000. I find it no accident that the three stripes, a registered adidas trademark since 1949, made an appearance in these uniforms. It doesn't matter that three stripes don't appear anywhere else. Three stripes = adidas. End of story. Perhaps they only appear on the road socks because they showed Patriots suits other options with more obvious three stripe elements (perhaps on the jersey sleeves, down the sides of the jersey, down the sides of the pants, whatever, I'm just speculating here) and the suits only liked the uni set with the least amount of stripes and that's why the uniforms that debuted only had them on the road socks?

Plus, just from a purely aesthetic vantage point, plain all white socks in a football uniform look like crap. They needed some color, and obviously this is when adidas designers saw their opportunity to embed their trademark on the uniform. It's somewhat subtle because it's only on the road socks, but both Reebok and now Nike have been making this uniform for years and yet the three stripes remain.

This is completely different from the Broncos "swoosh" side stripes because I can prove in court that three stripes are a registered trademark of adidas and the Broncos side stripes just "look like" swooshes (though personally I have never thought so and have always considered that comparison to be a stretch.)

Three stripes just being three stripes, when adidas designed and manufactured the uniform, is an absolutely ludicrous statement.

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