Los Angeles – Tesla’s design for its Model 3 vehicle logo received a rebrand around the same time Adidas filed a notice of opposition of one of its pending trademark applications, causing some to speculate Tesla’s changes were made in hopes of avoiding a trademark battle between the two companies.
Tesla filed a trademark application on August 9, 2016, for a horizontal stripes design. The three horizontal lines trademark is similar to the “e” part of Tesla’s branded image. The application was to cover the design on a variety of goods, including apparel and automobiles.
Adidas recently filed a notice of opposition over Tesla’s proposed logo, claiming the logo infringes the Adidas 3-Stripes trademark. The stripes in the Adidas trademark, usually found to be diagonal or vertical, were first registered as a trademark in 1969 and Adidas is known to be very aggressive in policing similar uses.
Adidas has argued that its 3-stripe trademark is well-known, given the company is a leading producer of athletic goods, sponsors word-wide athletic events such as the FIFA World Cup Soccer, and has partnered with famous brands and individuals. Given the scope of the trademark’s popularity, Adidas claimed that Tesla had full knowledge of the registration and the fame of the 3-Stripes trademark.
The notice of opposition filed by Adidas asserted two claims. First, a likelihood of confusion of affiliation, which will damage Adidas in its advertising and sales efforts. Second, dilution of the distinctive quality of Adidas’ 3-Stripes trademark, which Adidas argues will also damage the company.
The two companies work in different business spheres, with Tesla being a manufacturer of automobiles and Adidas being an apparel company. However, Adidas expressed concern that the goods referenced in the Tesla registration are the same goods Adidas sells, such as baseball hats and jackets; therefore, the goods are sold to the same types of consumers looking for the same types of products.
The notice of opposition requested that Tesla’s application be denied.
Tesla has since withdrawn its application and switched its design to a numeral “3.” Tesla has stated that the logo was changed weeks ago, even changing the logo on the website, before the Adidas opposition was even filed. A Tesla spokesman denied the logo change was influenced by the notice filing, and instead was changed for branding reasons.