Ralph Lauren uses its polo player motif on everything from shirts to perfume. But unfortunately for the U.S. Polo Association, this means that it cannot use the image to brand some of its retail products after a New York court ruled that it would ‘infringe upon the rights’ of the fashion powerhouse. The USPA, whose logo shows two polo players in a similar silhouette to Ralph Lauren’s, fell out with the label last year, after it tried to prevent the sporting body from using its marque on a new line of fragrances.
Polo sticks at dawn: Ralph Lauren’s logo (Top) is similar to the USPA’s (Bottom) which has been banned from using its marque on a new line of fragrance.
In a lawsuit filed in November, the USPA claimed that Ralph Lauren was ‘attempting to monopolize the depiction of the sport of polo’. But federal judge Robert Sweet failed to find favour with the organisation, ruling that the USPA’s double horseman marque would cause ‘customer confusion’ when used with the word ‘polo’.
He noted that the first Polo Ralph Lauren fragrance went on sale in 1978, and that the logo and the words have been used in tandem in the company’s branding ever since. He said: ‘There is…clearly room in our vast society for both the USPA parties and the PRL [Polo Ralph Lauren] parties to engage in licensing activities that do not conflict with one another, and nothing contained in this opinion should be construed as precluding such activities
Nonetheless, to the extent the USPA parties use “polo” in conjunction with the double horsemen mark on fragrances, this is another matter.’ L’Oréal USA Inc, which holds the license for Ralph Lauren fragrances, was granted a permanent injunction by the court, which ordered that all of USPA’s claims be dropped. USPA Properties Inc president and CEO David Cummings told WWD that the organisation was ‘surprised’ by the decision. He said: ‘United States Polo Association and USPA Properties Inc are disappointed by Judge Sweet’s decision. ‘We are currently researching our options and are considering appealing this decision.