A regional court in Braunschweig, Germany, has issued a decision that will allow Adidas to continue selling two styles of its Stan Smith shoe despite similarities to Puma's registered patterns.
The case is about two styles of Adidas' Stan Smith Boost shoes. According to the German court, DPA reports, the two pairs of shoes have similar taste patterns that are registered to Puma. Puma sued saying the Adidas shoe was a copy. Puma had asked the court to forbid Adidas from selling the shoes.
The court found that taste patterns are a matter of optical difference, meaning if it looked similar or not. The court found enough differences to allow Adidas to continue selling its shoes.
Unlike patents which provide technical inventions, Europe views design features as taste patterns. The specific taste patterns at issue were the shape and appearance of the sole of Adidas' new shoe.
Adidas created its iconic Stan Smiths after the namesake professional tennis player won Wimbledon in 1972. Stan Smith shoes are popular as part of Adidas' retro product offerings. Adidas had stopped selling them for two years to create new market demand upon reintroduction.
Adidas and Puma brand histories are rooted in competition with each other. Founded by brothers Adi and Rudolf Dassler, the brands rival each other in a close knit way unlike other sports brand rivalries.
The latest court decision is a victory for Adidas, however there is no question that there will be future disputes among the brands.
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