German sportswear brand Adidas has withdrawn opposition to a trademark application from the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, submitted to the US Trademark Office for use of three parallel yellow stripes on clothing and bags. Adidas had initially contested the application on Monday, arguing that it was “confusingly similar” to its own three-stripe mark, which has been in use since 1952. However, by Wednesday, Adidas had changed its stance.
Adidas is renowned for taking action against the use of parallel stripes by rival companies. In January, it contested a case against fashion designer Thom Browne’s use of similar stripes. Adidas argued that Browne’s designs were too similar to its own. Browne emerged victorious after a Manhattan federal court jury rejected Adidas’ claims.
Adidas has faced criticism for failing to support Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists. The company responded to the 2018 police shooting of Stephon Clark, a young black man, by announcing plans to donate $1m to US policing initiatives, prompting uproar on social media. The donation was used by critics to accuse the company of “undermining the community”, rather than offering much-needed support.
Other corporations have also found themselves at odds with BLM. In November 2017, beauty brand L’Oreal dismissed model Munroe Bergdorf as the face of its UK diversity campaign after she posted on Facebook, “Honestly, I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes, ALL white people.” Bergdorf claimed L’Oreal had attempted to silence conversation, whilst promoting a “championed by diversity” image.
PepsiCo was similarly accused of cultural insensitivity after it launched an ad which seemed to appropriate imagery associated with BLM. The ad saw model Kendall Jenner handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer during a protest. The issue received widespread attention, with critics arguing that BLM does not focus on merely ending misunderstanding between protestors and authorities.