First, adidas sues Black Lives Matter. Then, adidas inexplicably drops its suit against BLM. What’s going on?
On March 28, stories broke about adidas suddenly bringing a copyright suit against the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, perhaps the most recognizable corporate face within the Black Lives Matter movement.
It’s worth pausing here to point out that “Black Lives Matter” as a phrase, movement, and idea isn’t owned by any one company. As a concept, “Black Lives Matter” is a decentralized rallying cry for international pro-Black, anti-racist activists whereas is the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is a not-for-profit “political lobbying organization,” as Wikipedia puts it, one of several similarly-named companies.
Point is, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) recently applied to trademark its yellow, three-striped logo, which you can see in the official BLMGNF branding above.
adidas filed take BLMGNF to court in response, presumably to fight for authority over its own Three Stripes branding lost (adidas recently a similar lawsuit against Thom Browne).
However, adidas almost immediately pulled a 180, reversing course and dropping the lawsuit almost as quickly as news broke of it filing suit in the first place.
“adidas will withdraw its opposition to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s trademark application as soon as possible,” said an adidas representative in a statement, offering no further explanation.
Perhaps adidas is still reeling from its Thom Browne defeat or maybe adidas executives simply realized the poor optics of legally challenging a company with “Black Lives Matter” in the name.
In 2020, adidas made headlines by simply retweeting Nike’s pro-Black Lives Matter messaging, before issuing its own similar sentiments. It has since produced its own BLM T-shirts, as well.
adidas has recently been forced to navigate several controversies: recently, adidas was pressured to cut ties with anti-Semite Kanye “Ye” West (though it may have re-engaged talks with the YEEZY founder) in October 2022 and in late March 2023, it was the focus on a #PayYourWorkers campaign that drew protestors to a recent adidas activation.