It has been confirmed by the EU General Court that Ralph Lauren's word mark 'Polo' has enhanced distinctiveness as the result of an opposition that was first filed three years ago by the brand.
In 2014, Gidon Anabi Blanga ("Mr Blanga") filed an application with the EUIPO to register the word mark 'Hpc Polo' in classes 18 and 25 for goods including leather products and clothing. A year after the application was made by Blanga, Ralph Lauren filed a notice of opposition.
Mr Blanga, a Mexican individual, sought a second appeal after the opposition was upheld by the EUIPO's Opposition Division and subsequently affirmed by the First Board of Appeal. The board commented that the goods covered by both marks were identical and both shared the common element 'Polo'. In conclusion, they sided with Ralph Lauren, and stated that their mark has distinctive character as a result of public recognition and reputation to the extent that there would be a likelihood of confusion between the marks. "The more distinctive the earlier mark, the greater will be the risk of confusion" the court said.
The EU General Court held, having considered the marks in their entirety, that the marks 'Polo' and 'Hpc Polo' are visually, phonetically and conceptually similar. Furthermore, they added that Ralph Lauren demonstrated "intensive use" of their 'Polo' mark for class 25 (clothing) in advertising and promotional material as it has been the official outfitter of events including the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
In dismissing his appeal, the court ordered Mr Blanga to pay the costs and stated that his arguments were insufficient.
If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or email@example.com: EU/International, News, Trade Marks