Copying or Homage in Fashion

Adidas the German sportswear brand has monopolised their sector with ease, whilst being recognised as possibly one of the biggest global influencers in hip hop and as a sportswear brand.
Here’s a little background on adidas and how the brand built up its business, relationship within hip hop and solidified their mark.  The story between Run DMC and adidas goes back as far 1986, imagine a male trio of young, black, fashion-leading rappers from Queens, New York who possessed the game changing influence that adidas desperately needed.

It was when Run DMC played out in Madison Square Gardens on their Raising Hell tour that a representative from adidas was also in attendance. He was totally mesmerised by what he saw…tens of thousands of fans holding up their adidas trainers upon the direct request of Run DMC. That night what he witnessed was the power of hip-hop and within days Run DMC become the first hip-hop group to receive a million-dollar endorsement deal that saw the release of the super dope track “My adidas”.


adidas signature Three-Strip has been part of their visual merchandise since 1967, adidas filed a federal lawsuit against Forever 21 for blatant copying and ignoring trademark laws. Since 2006, Adidas has commenced a pattern of complaining about striped apparel sold by Forever 2.  The argument of the case surrounds the brand’s three stripes, according to Koin adidas has manufactured, sold, and promoted garments and footwear bearing their famous and distinctive Three-Strip trademark. “It is believed that the “Defendants [Forever 21] are designing, sourcing, manufacturing, disturbing, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, and/or selling apparel bearing identical and/or confusingly similar imitations of Adidas’ Three-Strip Mark.”
The garments in the firing line Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Looney Tunes sweaters with three stripes down the sleeves – they are certainly not in any way anyway affiliated with adidas. (Note the three strip detail was removed by Forever 21)
Another example – Rihanna taking Topshop to the High Courts for the production and selling of a Rihanna “tank” top.  The Court of Appeal upheld the ban on Topshop from selling the garment without Rihanna’s permission, the court recited misuse of image rights.
How about the stunt with magazine NME, 23 year old, UK rapper Stormzy, number 1 in the UK charts with latest album Gangs Signs and Prayer. Stormzy had been vocal about his depression, a subject amongst black men that to this day is still taboo. NME used Stormzy’s image on the cover without permission, he had made it clear that he wasn’t here for the use of his image without permission, he fired back at NME magazine in a series of tweets saying the following:
“@NME You lot are a bunch of real life f*****g p***yholes. Proper d**kheads. We’ve had a good relationship before this, why do you think it is kool to use my me as a poster boy for such a sensitive issue without permission? “You lot have been begging me to be on your cover and you go and do it in the biggest p***yhole, sly way possible. Bunch of f***ing paigons.”
This happens a lot within this world of fashion and entertainment The #GiuseppeWhat’sGood and #RunMeMyCheck hashtags created by female rapper Nick Minaj. Giuseppe Zanotti
worldwide shoe designer used Nicki Minaj as his muse/inspiration to create over 20 styles of footwear, called Nicki apparently after Minaj.  Giuseppe went onto design two collaborative collections with Zayn Malik and Jennifer Lopez, what a slap in the face for Barbz but you can read her tweets and make up your own mind!!!
Should we be obtaining permission beforehand or propose collaborations? Who’s the guilty party brands, magazines, high-street stores or even bloggers? In, the case of adidas their Three Stripe lawsuit seems pretty straightforward, customers could easily view the merchandise sold by Forever21, as a adidas collaboration or an adidas product.
The U.S Patent Trademark protects the use of words, names and symbols or a device used in the trade of goods to identify the source of goods whilst distinguishing their products from others’ and prevent others from using the same or similar mark.
With the lawsuit filed against Forever21 in order to establish clear rights, it’s reported with adidas’s registration in action and their historical use of the three stripes going back to 1967, it’s a simple case of easy win and run that check.

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