The EUIPO has decided that the Ralph Lauren polo mark does have public familiarity after a Mexico-based company called BlangaÂs had a mark filed in 2014, 4 years later than the Ralph Lauren mark and called it called ÂHPC PoloÂ. This mark was found to be Âvisually, phonetically and conceptually similar to an average degreeÂ to Ralph LaurenÂs earlier mark.
This led to the Polo/Lauren Company filing a notice of opposition which was upheld, but after several appealÂs it has finally come to a decision which showed the Mexican word mark was Âlikely to bring the earlier mark to mindÂ and take Âunfair advantageÂ of the Polo/Lauren CompanyÂs reputation.
The Sixth Chamber held that the decision by the EUIPO was correct and they explained that BlangaÂs argument was that the opposition was weak and the former word mark had little intrinsic distinctive character of the element ÂpoloÂ so must be Âdeclared ineffectiveÂ. The court added ÂWhile arguing that the element ÂhpcÂ has normal distinctive character, the applicant has in no way claimed that that element, when combined with the element ÂpoloÂ, results in a sign the overall meaning of which is completely different to that of the latter element, taken aloneÂ.
They concluded that the Âapplicant does not put forward any argument capable of refuting themÂ so the court dismissed BlangaÂs 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 headacheÂs that result in lengthy and costly battles.