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Adidas loses 3-stripes trade mark battle in Europe

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The employee of Adidas Elisabeth Koelemij Peters, poses with a shoe of the German sportswear giant prior the shareholders meeting of the German sportswear giant Adidas.

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Sportswear giant Adidas lost another battle over its three-stripe branding on clothing, footwear and headgear.

The General Court of the European Union confirmed Wednesday that the three parallel stripes applied in any direction is not a valid trade mark.

“Adidas does not prove that that mark has acquired, throughout the territory of the EU, distinctive character following the use which had been made of it,” the General Court said in its ruling.

This is not the first time that the German company has had to address challenges with regards to its logo. In 2014, the European Union Intellectual Property Office registered, in favour of Adidas, the three parallel equidistant stripes of identical width, applied on the product in any direction. However, in 2016, the same institution annulled that registration on the basis that it lacked a distinctive character – this came after an application from the Belgian undertaking, Shoe Branding Europe BVBA.

“Adidas is disappointed with the recent ruling by the General Court to uphold the cancellation of the company’s 3-Stripe mark applied to our products in whichever direction in Europe,” a spokesperson for Adidas told CNBC via email on Thursday.

The same spokesperson told CNBC that Adidas is considering its options.

“This ruling is limited to this particular execution of the 3-Stripe mark and does not impact on the broad scope of protection that adidas has on its well-known 3-Stripe mark in various forms in Europe. Whilst we are disappointed with the decision, we are further evaluating it and are welcoming the useful guidance that the Court will give us for protecting our 3-Stripe mark applied to our products in whichever direction in the future,” the spokesperson said.

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UK inflation dips to near three-year low as utility price cap kicks in

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British inflation fell to its lowest level in nearly three years in October, official data showed, giving households a bit of a spending boost before next month’s election.

Consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 1.5% compared with 1.7% in September as a regulator’s tariff cap pushed down electricity and gas prices for 15 million homes, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday.

It was the lowest reading of the consumer price index since November 2016.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a 1.6% increase.

The Bank of England said last week that inflation would probably fall to 1.25% early next year due to caps on energy and water prices, but was likely to be back above its 2% target towards the end of its three-year forecast period.

The BOE has long said it plans to raise interest rates gradually, assuming Britain avoids a no-deal Brexit shock.

But two policymakers voted to cut rates last week, citing signs of a cooling in the labour market, and the Monetary Policy Committee as a whole sounded cautious about the outlook as the global economy slowed and Brexit remained unresolved.

“A fall in utility prices due to a lowering of the energy price cap helped ease inflation in October,” an ONS spokesperson said. “However, this was partially offset by rising clothing prices.”

Gas and electricity prices fell by 8.7% and 2.2% respectively in October from September.

Falling motor fuel prices also helped push down inflation.

A measure of core inflation, which excludes energy, fuel, alcohol and tobacco, was unchanged at 1.7%, as expected by economists in the Reuters poll.

The ONS figures suggested no short-term pressure in the pipeline for consumer prices.

Manufacturers’ raw material and energy costs fell by 5.1% in annual terms last month, their biggest slide since April 2016.

The Reuters poll had pointed to a 4.9% fall.

Manufacturers raised the prices they charged by an annual 0.8%, the weakest increase since August 2016.

The ONS said house prices in September rose by an annual 1.3% across the United Kingdom, unchanged from August after touching a nearly seven-year low of 1.0% in June.

Prices in London alone fell for the 15th month in a row, down by 0.4% after falling by heavier 1.0% in August.

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Trump — not the Fed — is the biggest threat to the US economy

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Reserve Bank of India Gov. Raghuram Rajan

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Former Indian central bank chief Raghuram Rajan warned that the biggest threat to the U.S. economy will come from President Donald Trump’s trade policies.

In an opinion piece titled “Is Economic Winter coming?” published on the Project Syndicate website Tuesday, Rajan said the old rules governing macroeconomic cycles no longer seem to apply and it remains to be seen what might cause the next recession in the U.S.

“But if recent history is our guide, the biggest threat stems not from the U.S. Federal Reserve or any one sector of the economy, but rather from the White House,” Rajan, who is currently a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, said.

He further highlighted that Trump’s administration “doubled down” on its trade war with China just after the Fed embarked on its rate rising path last year.

“After markets started tumbling in late 2018, the Fed backed off. With a comprehensive deal to resolve the trade war nowhere in sight, and with a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump now underway, the Fed is unlikely to tighten monetary policy anytime soon,” Rajan said.

Meanwhile, a second factor Rajan points to is geopolitical risks such as the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in September. “A spike in the price of oil could tip the global economy into recession.”

Rajan who served as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India for three years, from Sept. 2013 to Sept. 2016, said while recessions are unpredictable by nature, the greatest threat is not rising rates but unforeseen actions in areas such as trade and geopolitics.

“If the world had fewer wannabe strongmen, the global economy would be much stronger than it is. Unfortunately, most of today’s authoritarian leaders are there because voters put them there.”

CNBC reached out to the White House but a comment was not immediately available.

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Global trade is likely contracting

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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) General Secretary Angel Gurria gestures as he addresses a meeting at OECD headquarters in Paris on June 7, 2017.

ERIC PIERMONT | AFP | Getty Images

Investment and trade growth at the moment are reliant on a deal between the U.S. and China, the secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) told CNBC Wednesday.

“Yesterday, he (President Donald Trump) made a presentation at the Economic Club (in New York) and basically he said ‘Yes, maybe we’re close to a deal with China’ — we’re betting on that,” Angel Gurria told CNBC’s Charlotte Reed in Paris.

“The rate of growth of trade has come down from 5.5% in 2017 to basically flat. In fact, maybe as we speak, trade is going negative, it’s contracting. Investment — as a consequence because of the uncertainty — went from 5% growth to about 1% growth now and it’s slowing down further.

“Therefore growth has dropped precipitously over a short period of time,” he said.

In September, the OECD cut its global growth forecasts, predicting that the global economy will see its weakest growth in 2019, predicting growth of 2.9%, since the financial crisis in 2008-2009. It predicted 3% growth in 2020.

The forecasts were down from its May outlook when it predicted the global economy would grow 3.2% this year and 3.4% in 2020.

Gurria told CNBC that “if we continue to take decisions along the lines of more protectionism or more problems with trade etc, if there are more tensions, then the consequences can be even worse.”

Then, in its “Interim Economic Outlook,” the organization warned that “global economy has become increasingly fragile and uncertain, with growth slowing and downside risks continuing to mount.” It said economic prospects were weakening for both advanced and emerging economies, “and global growth could get stuck at persistently low levels without firm policy action from governments.”

Green shoots?

Global growth forecasts are largely dependent right now on the outcome of trade talks between the U.S. and China.

If both sides can agree the first phase of a trade deal, that could see both sides remove some existing tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s imports. If talks cannot produce an agreement, both China and the U.S. are set to impose even more tariffs on December 15.

The signs are not looking that positive with reported hurdles . Speaking to the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his trade attack on China, calling the nation “cheaters.” Trump said that the first phase of a trade deal “could happen soon” but threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese goods “very substantially” if a deal doesn’t happen, Reuters reported.

Economists and strategists tend to agree that a trade deal would be a game changer for the positive of negative direction of global growth. Asked if he could see any green shoots in parts of the global economy right now, Arend Kapteyn, the global head of Economics and Strategy Research at UBS, told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche that “we can’t see them.”

“Our narrative is that we’re running at very, very low global growth levels … and it doesn’t get better for the next three quarters and actually we’re going to hit a bit of an air pocket in the first half of next year because we’re still seeing these existing (trade) tariffs feeding themselves into the data,” he said Wednesday.

“If there is no tariff rollback, you’re going to see a hit to the retail sector in the first half of next year … If there is a deal and it’s much more comprehensive and the (December) tariffs don’t happen, we will be changing the forecasts and we would expect to start seeing green shoots but we’re not seeing it yet,” he said.

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