Enhanced Distinctiveness given to Ralph Lauren ‘Polo’ Mark.

The EUIPO has decided that the Ralph Lauren polo mark does have public familiarity after a Mexico-based company called Blanga’s had a mark filed in 2014, 4 years later than the Ralph Lauren mark and called it called ‘HPC Polo’. This mark was found to be “visually, phonetically and conceptually similar to an average degree” to Ralph Lauren’s earlier mark.

This led to the Polo/Lauren Company filing a notice of opposition which was upheld, but after several appeal’s it has finally come to a decision which showed the Mexican word mark was “likely to bring the earlier mark to mind” and take “unfair advantage” of the Polo/Lauren Company’s reputation.

The Sixth Chamber held that the decision by the EUIPO was correct and they explained that Blanga’s argument was that the opposition was weak and the former word mark had little intrinsic distinctive character of the element ‘polo’ so must be ‘declared ineffective’. The court added “While arguing that the element ‘hpc’ has normal distinctive character, the applicant has in no way claimed that that element, when combined with the element ‘polo’, results in a sign the overall meaning of which is completely different to that of the latter element, taken alone”.

They concluded that the “applicant does not put forward any argument capable of refuting them” so the court dismissed Blanga’s appeal and that they should pay cost.

These types of disputes are heard on a weekly basis and is why it is imperative that the correct due diligence is carried out before making a decision on a word mark to hopefully avoid these types of headache’s that result in lengthy and costly battles.

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