Trademark Dispute Adidas Reason Why Tesla Changed Model 3 Logo/Branding?

7 months ago by Eric Loveday 41

Tesla Model 3 Site Shows New Name

Remember when Tesla quietly changed the branding on the Model 3 from the previous three-bar format to the new numeric logo?

At the time, we had thought the change was perhaps connected to search engine power, but it seems we may have been wrong.

Old Adidas Logo

Just after the Model 3 branding change went public, so too did an opposition filing against Tesla’s trademarked three-bar format for the Model 3.

The filing was submitted by Adidas, who argues that the three-bar format for the Model 3 is far too similar to the company’s old “3-stripes mark.” (see image).

Adidas no longer uses that trademark, but if the company were to decide to revive it from the dead, then it certainly doesn’t want it to be confused with the three-bar Model 3 logo. As Law360 states:

“Adidas AG filed a notice of opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, demanding the board stop Tesla Motors Inc. from the registering the logo — three horizontal stripes, similar to the styling of the “E” in Tesla’s primary logo.”

It would be foolish to think it’s a coincidence that Tesla changed the Model 3 branding just prior to the trademark opposition filing going public. It’s more likely that this was brought to Tesla’s attention prior to the filing and Tesla reacted swiftly by changing Model 3 over to a numeric logo, which we appreciate due to the complexities of keyboarding the old three-bar setup.

Old Three Bar Logo

Source: Law 360

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41 responses to "Trademark Dispute Adidas Reason Why Tesla Changed Model 3 Logo/Branding?"

  1. Kdawg says:

    But one makes clothes/shoes the other cars?

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      Very good point. Companies can even have similar/same names if the products they sell are distinctly different.

      I really don’t understand how this held up in any way, shape, or form. Maybe Tesla was just trying to be very conservative and get ahead of any potential issue prior to launch.

      1. no comment says:

        you can’t really comment on the merits of the addidas notice complaint without seeing the addidas trademark registration and the contents of the notice. if what is being reported in this article is true, i suspect that the notice complaint by addidas did have some merit.

        1. Nix says:

          Here is their Notice of Opposition:

          http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=91232672&pty=OPP&eno=1

          It isn’t outlandish, and stays within scope of products where Adidas would make similar products, and doesn’t oppose the use for the Model 3 car itself per se.

          1. no comment says:

            thanks for posting the information.

            it seems pretty clear that the tesla application for the mark using just 3 horizontal bars was going to fail. the tesla application for a mark with the word “model” next to the three horizontal bars is less obvious, but there is still potential for confusion since nothing in the mark tells you that the mark is a reference to a car.

    2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

      I know right?!?!?!?!?

    3. philip d says:

      Not to mention 3 horizontal bars is symbol for the number 3 in numerous Asian languages. So should Tesla go ahead and patent the number 3? That sure would be a valuable patent.

    4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “But one makes clothes/shoes the other cars?”

      Yes, but Tesla sells “gear” that includes T-shirts and hats.

      That makes it a direct competitor to Adidas in that market, and thus the Trademark challenge appears to have some foundation, altho I’d argue a weak one. Weak because I don’t see that the logos are so similar that they could reasonably be confused.

      Just my opinion, and this two-headed llama doesn’t have a law degree.

      1. Nix says:

        ^^This

        Adidas doesn’t oppose to Tesla using the 3 bars on their cars, they are only opposing to Tesla’s use of 3 lines for the following items, for which Tesla was also seeking trademarks:

        “All goods and services in the class are opposed, namely: Articles of clothing, namely, t-shirts, shirts, jackets, gloves, scarves, hats;headgear, namely, sports hats, caps, sun visors; hats for infants, babies, toddlers and children; infant and toddler one piece clothing; infant wear”

        Whether Adidas has a valid opposition or not, Adidas has to “vigorously defend” their trademarks. If they don’t, they will lose their ability to keep their trademark in the future. If Adidas doesn’t file this opposition, then the next time some other company does something with 3 lines, the next company would cite Adidas not opposing Tesla using 3 lines as precedent for why that next company should be allowed to use 3 lines too. It’s the game they all have to play. It is the fun stuff that goes with owning a trademark.

    5. Trace says:

      It doesn’t matter to corporate branding specialists.

      AT&T’s older blue globe logo was viciously defended. They sued Minolta for using a similar logo, and even Pepsi for the mid-80s Diet Pepsi can having lines through their blue/red wave logo.

  2. JC says:

    The three bar is simply the way to write “three” in Chinese. It should be allowed to stay.

  3. ClarksonCote says:

    That’s so silly. The bars are formatted differently and are a different length.

    I’m surprised the protest from ADIDAS held up.

    Perhaps scientist should sue ADIDAS for trademarking the “always equal” symbol. 🙂

    1. Gary says:

      Article doesn’t state the protest was upheld, only filed.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Right.

        My guess is that Tesla decided it wasn’t worth the effort to fight the dispute, because that might have tied up their ability to use the logo in advertising, including on their website… at a very inopportune time, just when Tesla is likely planning its marketing campaign for the Model 3.

        And Tesla may have been considering the change anyway, because of the problem with Internet searches mentioned in the article. We shouldn’t assume Tesla had only one reason for changing the logo.

  4. Olg says:

    better have filed an appeal at the world-famous Chinese manufacturers of shoes “Abibas” and “Adibas” 🙂

  5. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    Altneratively: 3 bars mean 3 pieces to install; 3 numeral means 1 piece to install

  6. HVACman says:

    If I remember, the history of the Model “3” was that it was originally to be a Model “E” (the E in SEXY), but Ford already had that name tied up. The three bars I think were originally to be the “E” but Tesla changed its meaning to “3” to get around that. The three bars were not really clear that it was a “3”, anyway. I think it was a good branding move by Tesla, perhaps “encouraged” by the Adidas issue.

    PS – the Adidas three stripes “branding” is still ubiquitous on their products, even if it isn’t on their logo anymore. Shorts, shirts, shoes, etc. all have three stripes on them. And their current logo has three stripes turned diagonal above the word “Adidas”.

    If Tesla really is close to production, now is not the time to get into a legal battle over the logo even if Adidas’ challenge isn’t entirely rock-solid. The logo will be everywhere going forward – websites, Tesla stores, sales literature, logos on the vehicle, etc. etc.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Thank you, and well said, sir. My guess is you are entirely correct.

      Another point of confusion is that the “≡” means “E” in the “T≡SLA” logo, but means “3” in the “Model ≡” logo.

      This is a confusion Tesla does not need when it comes to marketing the Model 3.

  7. tosho says:

    Just another nazi corporation hating on Tesla….

  8. William L says:

    U.S. Patent and Trademark Office should just throw the notice back to Adidas, and tell them you guys are stupid.

  9. Devin Serpa says:

    Tesla!? I thought it was an Adidas EV.

    1. ffbj says:

      Wow, so did I. Glad they cleared that up.

  10. Wisdomkid says:

    I believe the Amtrak.com logo is more like Adidas than Telsa. Why are they not suing then?

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Because Adidas isn’t selling train tickets, and Amtrak probably isn’t selling hats and T-shirts with their logo on them, as Tesla is.

    2. Nix says:

      They aren’t actually suing. They have just filed their opposition to Tesla’s trademark application. Adidas is opposing Tesla’s application for using 3 lines on clothing items.

      It isn’t a lawsuit, it is just Adidas putting their opposition to Tesla’s trademark application to the US Patent and Trademark Office. It will only be used for them to either accept, refuse, or limit Tesla’s application.

      It sounds like Tesla has moved to using the 3, either as a backup to the 3 lines while they await their trademark application results, or as a way to avoid conflict.

  11. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    I think someone should do a third party pirated logo emblem that will directly fit on where Tesla puts it on the Model≡
    😛

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      3D printer tech will make that easy to reproduce, once someone creates the “printer” file for it. We’ll quite likely see that as a cottage industry on ebay, and possibly Etsy and elsewhere.

      Higher-end 3D printers can use metal powders, which is what you’d want. Beware of plastic that’s just given a chrome-colored coating!

  12. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    They should go French and change the name to….

    “Model à trois”

    😛

    1. ffbj says:

      Go to your room, and don’t come out till you’re 13.

  13. Dabincharlotte says:

    What about conflicting with the little 3 bar menu in the top corner of a lot of smartphone apps? It’s almost identical.

    1. ffbj says:

      3 guys were walking down the sidewalk. 2 of them walked into a bar, the 3rd guy ducked.

  14. Lad says:

    Much to do about nothing; but, supports the worthless non-value adding attorneys.

  15. Robert Barros says:

    Addidas’ claim is bogus. They use three stripes vertically, horizontally, on a 45-degree angle and differing, as well as asymmetrical lengths, etc.

    Tesla is using the three stylized bars, identically to the “E” in their trademarked name.

    Adidas never bothered to file a suit about the Tesla “E” in all these years. Did they?

  16. Anon says:

    3 is easier to Google…

  17. Murrysville EV says:

    “3” is better; get over it.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Model ≡” forever!! 😛

      1. Kdawg says:

        I want to see someone change the “3” to three bars on their car.

        1. Murrysville EV says:

          +1 (or 3). Just like some people have changed their KIA logos to the Korean version.

          1. Kdawg says:

            Wow, I like that logo a lot better. The US version “K I A” logo looks cheap to me. Make me think of the Chia Pet commercials. Kah-kah-kah-KIA!

  18. Steven says:

    I think it might go back to apple versus Apple.

    Apple, the record label didn’t object to Apple, the computer company using the same name, just as long as they didn’t do anything with sound, more than beeps and buzzes. Well we all know how that worked out for Apple… I mean the other Apple.

    So now these three lines look like those three lines, and the lawyers must be paid.

    Good thing you can’t trademark a number, yet.