Adidas argues that three stripes not a logo

Updated: April 25, 2006, 11:51 AM ET
Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- Adidas is suing the four Grand Slam tournaments and the International Tennis Federation in a dispute over the size of its logo.

Wimbledon officials said Tuesday that adidas filed papers in London's High Court last week seeking an injunction against a rule limiting the size of logos on players' clothing. Adidas also filed a claim for damages.

Wimbledon is the first Grand Slam event affected by the dispute, which began last May. Adidas is also suing the U.S., Australian and French Opens.

All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie said Wimbledon would "vigorously defend" the case, which he described as "totally without foundation."

The Grand Slam Committee ruled last May that Adidas' three stripes were a "manufacturers' identification" and not a "design effect." Adidas was told its logos must be no larger than 4 square inches.

The rule goes into effect on June 26, the first day of play at Wimbledon.

The German sporting goods manufacturer said Tuesday the rule was issued "one-sidedly, without respecting the industry's needs and without considering concerns raised in advance."

The company said the rule "discriminates against adidas and infringes elementary EU competition rights."

Adidas contended the three stripes running down shirt sleeves or shorts are not a standard logo. It said the official logo is the "performance logo" depicting three stripes arranged in a pyramid with Adidas written underneath.

"We do not want a situation where we see players covered in large numbers of manufacturers' identifications and have large crocodiles and large swooshes," Ritchie said. "If you accept the situation with the three stripes, then you open the floodgates to players being advertising billboards."

Ritchie said the Grand Slam committee had increased the size for logos from 2 square inches to 4, and given Adidas 13 months to comply with the new rule. He said Adidas' reaction was "heavy-handed."

"We think that's a perfectly reasonable compromise and they should comply with that," Ritchie said. "As far as I'm aware, the other manufacturers have said they are happy with the situation. We need to be equal to everybody."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press