The governing body of the sport in the US has been at loggerheads with the fashion house since 1984 when it first attempted to expand a trademark licensing program throughout the US.
After numerous trademark applications, oppositions and lawsuits over more than two decades, the US Polo Association now has a clothing and accessories line developed and distributed across the US by Jordache, which it wants to extend into fragrances.
Late last week it filed a declaratory judgement in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in the hope of protecting its attempts to launch the fragrance range.
The declaratory judgement will determine the right of the Polo Association to launch a range bearing the U.S. Polo Assn. name and its double horseman logo (in contrast to the single horseman logo of Ralph Lauren Polo).
In addition, the US Polo Association is calling on the judge to confirm that the licensing of fragrance products under the brand does not constitute trademark infringement, dilution or unfair competition regarding the Ralph Lauren Polo brand; thereby helping to protect it from future litigious action from Ralph Lauren Polo on the subject.
In the lawsuit the Polo Association said Jordache assigned a team to develop a concept for a fragrance in June 2009 and production started on the product which would feature both the U.S. Polo Assn. name and its double horseman logo.
Fragrance range ready for launch
The U.S. Polo Assn. said in the lawsuit that distributor Jordache has received the shipment and is ready to launch the products.
However, the lawsuit alleges that the product launch has been ‘significantly impaired’ by Ralph Lauren Polo’s ‘steadfast opposition’ to a U.S. Polo Assn. brand of fragrances.
According to the lawsuit, the distributor Jordache does not want to offer the fragrances to all of the existing retailers as it feels they will not accept anything that Ralph Lauren Polo objects to. It alleges that in the past the fashion house has sued or otherwise harassed retailers offering U.S Polo Assn. products.
Ralph Lauren refused to comment on the case, and no one at the US Polo Association was available to comment at the time of publishing.