As Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger would say, you must “Earn your stripes.” Someone should have told Payless that.
In 1994, Payless sold an athletic shoe with two and four parallel stripes, eerily similar to Adidas’ trademarked three-stripe mark. The companies reached a settlement, but in 2001, Payless again began selling their version of the Adidas sneaks.
Not surprisingly, Adidas sued Payless on the grounds of trademark infringement and won. Adidas America Inc. v. Payless Shoesource Inc. has been dubbed by some lawyers as the largest trademark verdict ever, with Adidas being awarded $305 million, or $100 million for each stripe.
Hopefully I’ve inspired you to give credit where credit is due and create your own, original work. Essentially, Payless copied a few straight lines. Even that is illegal.
Here’s the verdict form, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.