Sponsored by Adidas? Eleague versus Adidas

The use of 3 stripes in the logo of Eleague has been challenged by Adidas, making a case that it leads to confusion and dilution. For several observers, this trademark infringement case represents a substantial stretch in terms of related industries. This article presents a concise overview of the case details, its resolution and implications for trademark strategy.

By

Jan Buza

In 2016, Turner Broadcasting has applied for a trademark registration of its brand Eleague that has become a renown symbol in the gaming community [1]. This trademark application was however opposed by Adidas, claiming that the apparent similarity in logos used by Adidas and Eleague may create confusion and dilution [1]. Numerous independent observers have viewed this action as a substantial stretch in terms of perceiving related industries, making an argument that while Adidas operates in the industry of sports and leisure wear, its relation to the world of virtual sports and gaming is virtually non-existent [2]. This perspective is however not very accurate as Adidas has sponsored a wide range of teams and events in the gaming world. These activities pursued by Adidas started from 2006, and include the official sponsorship of FIFA Interactive World Cup and numerous gaming teams, such as SK Gaming, CNB e-Sports Club, Copenhagen Wolves and ESL’s ENC 2008 [1]. As a result, the fear of concussion and dilution can be viewed as very legitimate.

The ruling of the intellectual property office was however in favour of Turner Broadcasting, allowing the use of the Eleague logo to co-exist with the prior trademark registration made by Adidas. The underlying reason relates to the differences in the distinctive elements of the logo. On the one hand, Adidas stipulated that the distinctiveness of its logo is derived from the use of 3 parallel equidistant lines of an equal length. On the other hand, the trademark application made by Turner Broadcasting clarifies that the logo symbolises the letter E formed by three slanted parallel lines. Hence, it is the position and symbolic value of the three parallel lines that clearly distinguishes the two brands.

[1] Mitchell, F. (2017), “Eleague trademark challenged by Adidas over the 3 stripes”, The eSports Observer, available from: https://esportsobserver.com/eleague-trademark-challenged-adidas-3-stripes/

[2] Geigner, T. (2017), “Adidas opposes Turner Broadcasting’s ELEAGUE logo trademark because of lines”, TechDirt, available from: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171017/09444538418/adidas-opposes-turner-broadcastings-eleague-logo-trademark-because-lines.shtml

Jan Buza

Jan Buza

Product Mind

Helped scale portfolio firms for a VC fund

CEMS Prague

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