Trademark Battles: US Polo Association Vs. Ralph Lauren

Most people are familiar with the trademark polo player found on all of Ralph Lauren’s products, whether it’s a shirt of a perfume fragrance. Not quite as many may be familiar with the United States Polo Association’s logo depicting the same exact sport in a very different way. Now, the battle of the trademark has raged between these two groups.

The Ralph Lauren logo features a single horseman stand in his stirrups while holding his bat in the air in a “ready to strike the ball” pose. The US Polo Association logo, on the other hand depicts 2 horsemen, one with a bat in the air and the other reaching to strike the ball.

The US Polo Association filed a suit against Ralph Lauren claiming that the fashion giant is trying to make money off the logo and the sport itself. The lawsuit comes as the US Polo Association looks to market its own line of fragrances.

A New York judge didn’t see things quite the same way as the Polo Association, though. Federal judge Robert Sweet noted that Ralph Lauren has been using the single player polo logo in conjunction with the word ‘polo’ on its products since 1978. He stated that while there is plenty of room for both companies to “engage in licensing activities,” it is another matter entirely for the US Polo Association to “use ‘polo’ in conjunction with the double horsemen mark on fragrances.” According to the judge, such use would cause confusion among consumers. Judge Sweet issued a permanent injunction requiring the polo association to drop all claims.

USPA CEO David Cummings said that the association is looking into the next steps to appeal the decision. For now at least, the US Polo Association will not be allowed to use its trademark logo in conjunction with the word ‘polo’ on its new line of fragrances, and Ralph Lauren has the right to continue to use theirs.

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