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Polo Ralph Lauren Score Goal in Trademark Match Against the U.S. Polo Association

By Annie Lindenhovius [April 2nd, 2013] 

Polo Polo

For years, Polo Ralph Lauren and the U.S. Polo Association have been hooking mallets over the use of their polo player trademarks.

In 1984, the long battle between the U.S. Polo Association and Polo Ralph Lauren began. At the time, a Manhattan federal court granted the USPA permission to use the “double horseman” logo on their merchandise, as long as it would not cause consumer confusion. The USPA’s double jockey logo bears a marked resemblance to Ralph Lauren’s mounted polo player.

Over two decades later, a jury refined the decision; if the double horseman logo were used in conjunction with text identifying it as a USPA product, it would not be infringing. However, the horsemen used without text would constitute infringement.

This past February, the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals continued to limit the USPA’s ability to use their logo; the Court upheld a previous ruling that the USPA cannot use the “double horseman” logo on its fragrances. Ralph Lauren had introduced its Polo Blue fragrance in 2002, and seven years later, the USPA designed its own fragrance, with a similar packaging.

The Court determined that by using the logo on fragrances, USPA was not acting in good faith, and had attempted to exploit the good will of Ralph Lauren’s mark. The Court of Appeals agreed that by using the confusingly similar mark on its fragrances, the USPA had acted with the “intention of capitalizing” on Ralph Lauren’s reputation and products.

And the point goes to Ralph Lauren.

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