Polo row enters new chukka

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The Independent Online

The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, one of the European Union's most senior courts, has ruled that the club cannot use its polo player logo on branded goods such as perfumes and soaps as it could be confused with trademarks registered in the US by the New York designer.

But club chairman Bryan Morrison, a Hackney-born businessman who made his fortune in the 1960s and 1970s publishing music by Pink Floyd and the Bee Gees, said that he was not giving up the fight and would instead be consulting lawyers about his next move.

"It's just the most absurd situation," he said. "I have recognition for [the logo] in England, so I can reproduce it in England, but not in Europe. I'm going to speak to my lawyers. It just drives me nuts."

Since 1985, Mr Morrison has built the club into one of the best in England. It is now part of the polo season circuit beside Cowdray Park in West Sussex and Guards in Windsor Great Park.

Mr Morrison wants to continue expanding the club, which sits in 240 acres and is considering developing a "major" equestrian centre. He is also building up a business selling products around the world, including clothes and cosmetics, branded with the club name and using the polo player logo.

Mr Morrison said the business was "starting to build" and that products were already being sold in such far-flung destinations as Hong Kong and Mexico. But he added that he had been locked in legal rows with Polo Ralph Lauren for around a decade now as the fashion group sought to protect its trademarks around the world.

Polo Ralph Lauren was founded by design giant Ralph Lauren. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the group boasts a market value of $6.1bn (£3.5bn). The 66-year old Mr Lauren, who is its chief executive, first used the Polo brand in 1967.

Earlier this month, the group reported a 21 per cent surge in third-quarter profits, beating analysts' estimates. However, its shares slipped after it cut forecasts for the current year, in part because it is closing a number of Club Monaco shops in the US to refocus on the core clothing and accessories business. The group reported annual sales of $3.3bn last year.

A Polo Ralph Lauren spokeswoman said: "We are pleased with the court's decision that supports our continued efforts to protect our valuable trademark." She declined to discuss the issue further.

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