NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ralph Lauren Corp lost some ground on Wednesday in its long-running trademark fight with the United States Polo Association over the use of its logo depicting a horse-mounted polo player swinging a mallet.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled that the Polo Association cannot be held in contempt for selling sunglasses with a logo similar to the one emblazoned with the horseman, which is featured on clothing and accessories sold under the Polo Ralph Lauren brand trademark around the globe.
The association is the governing body of polo in the United States. But in a partnership with JRA Trademark Co, it also markets certain consumer goods, often in competition with Polo Ralph Lauren.
The logo in dispute in the case is known as the “double horsemen mark” and depicts two mounted polo players vying for a ball.
The Polo Association sold nearly one million pairs of sunglasses bearing the mark between 2009 and 2012, when a lower court judge ruled that it could be held in contempt for violating an injunction against such use dating back to 1984.
Wednesday’s ruling, written by 2nd Circuit Judge Ralph Winter, said the injunction barred the Polo Association from using the double-horseman mark and the word “polo” on its fragrances and beauty products, among other merchandise.
But it said the injunction, which fell short of being clear and unambiguous, did not bar use of the double horsemen mark across all markets.
“The parties bound by an injunction are entitled to clear notice of what specifically they may or may not do,” it said.
“USPA (United States Polo Association) argues that the underlying injunction did not enjoin all uses of the mark. We agree and vacate the contempt order and remand for further proceedings.”
The case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is U.S. Polo Ass’n, Inc. v. PRL USA Holdings Inc 13-1038-cv(L)