• Megan Parent

Adidas v. The Little Guy

On Monday, July 30, 2018, Adidas was served with a trademark infringement suit for using the phrase “Never Done” after agreeing to partner with, the creator, Abraham Berti Levy, a small business entrepreneur, to use it to market apparel.

Levy is a business owner who trademarked the phrases “You’re Never Done ® ”, “YND ® ,” “Never Done ® ,” “We’re Never Done ® ” and “I’m Never Done ® ” and subsequently plastered it on his line of apparel. Levi and Adidas were originally supposed to partner together under the umbrella company Agron, Inc (the licensing agency for Adidas), until an alleged licensing issue caused the partnership to fall through. Adidas, reneging on their agreement with Levy , went on to place the phrase onto products and allow multitudes of celebrities and social media influencers to wear and promote the apparel. Adidas also conducted at least one social media campaign where they used the hashtag #NeverDone.

Here, we see famous NHL hockey player, Tyler Seguin, promoting the phrase via Twitter ® . The impact of Adidas’ decision to use Levy’s timed phrases without his permission could have some serious monetary penalties behind it. Adidas was “not associated with nor connected to Plaintiff nor licensed, authorized, sponsored, endorsed or approved by Plaintiff in any way” according to the Plaintiff’s Complaint.

Levy is suing Adidas’ for unlawful use of this phrase because it is likely to confuse consumers and lead them to think these products are associated and/or produced by Levy. Previous to Adidas adopting Levy’s idea and putting it on apparel themselves, Levy had already been steadily producing and selling his own apparel with that exact saying on it; and rightfully so, he was the one who trademarked it!

Here is another example of Adidas’ alleged trademark infringement. This is a picture of a blogger that was invited to participate in Adidas’ training during Berlin Fashion Week bearing the phrase “Never Done” ® .

Here, we see the little guy getting tossed around among the big corporate world. Adidas went on to use this phrase without authorization from Levy or his company, even though Levy ultimately owns that phrase. This is a huge issue. Even though Levy spent the time and money to get those phrases protected, it was still taken away from him. Every time someone hears the phrase “Never Done” they are going to think of Adidas just because they are more popular. This is taking advantage of the little guy and profiting from his ideas. Do I sense a part two to the “How to Steal an Honest Companies Money and Get Away with it” saga? You got it!

Trademark infringement can be absolutely devastating to a small business or start-up. If you are on the fence about whether or not you think you need to trademark your logo and any slogans you have, consider this phrase: “better safe than sorry!”. Go check out our firm’s article on “Why Trademarking is Important for the Start-Up Company,” if you’d like to delve deeper into this issue.

Having a back-up plan to protect your ideas is really very important to ensuring you don’t get taken advantage of. Just some things to consider:

  1. If a company infringes upon your trademark rights and you do not take immediate action, it could irreparably damage your company’s reputation in possibly two ways: they could steal your customers and monopolize on your ideas OR they could produce products at a lower quality than yours and tarnish your reputation for putting out actual good-quality products.

  2. Whether you are plaintiff or the defendant in this situation, legal fees are a major consideration you must account for when preparing for legal action. As a plaintiff, if you want justice to be served in court, you must be prepared to “spend money to make money”.

  3. Your brand’s name follows you forever and if others are using your intellectual property, it is essentially dropping the value of your trademark.

This situation could result in one of a few ways: Adidas and Levy could partner up so that Levy can get in on some of the wealth HIS ideas are bringing in. He could continue with the case and possibly win, resulting in a pay out. Or thirdly, he could lose the case. In this case, Levy is moving for injunction; this basically means he is asking the court to force Adidas to stop using his slogans and phrases and to pay him for his lost revenue. . If Levy is to “win”, Adidas could be faces a slight problem on their hands. They would be paying back for all the revenue they received for infringed products and then some. Small victory for small business owners and entrepreneurs!

If you are looking for an attorney to protect your trademarks and intellectual property alike, please contact us here!

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