NEW YORK — Polo Ralph Lauren has won a court battle over Westchester Media Company and the use of the Polo trademark.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously affirmed a lower trial court’s decision that enjoined the use of the name Polo in connection with Westchester Media’s publication of a fashion and lifestyle title called Polo Magazine. The appellate court upheld a ruling that prevents use of the Polo name on the magazine’s cover unless it is accompanied by a bold and prominent disclaimer reading: "Not affiliated with Polo Ralph Lauren."
"We are very pleased with this judicial recognition of the strength of Polo Ralph Lauren’s trademarks and the necessity of avoiding customer confusion," said the company in a statement.
The appellate court’s ruling is the latest in a series of legal wranglings going back and forth since January 1998, when Polo Ralph Lauren first sought an injunction prohibiting Westchester from publishing its magazine under the Polo name.
In August 1999, the Houston magistrate judge issued the injunction. Westchester appealed, and within three days, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the injunction pending appeal. In June 2000, the appellate court vacated the injunction, finding that the magistrate judge had failed to give sufficient weight to Westchester’s First Amendment rights. The appellate court remanded the case to the magistrate judge on the narrow issue of determining the appropriate remedy. On remand, Polo Ralph Lauren continued to contend that the magazine should not be permitted to use the Polo name when publishing. The Houston judge’s October ruling reaffirmed his earlier decision allowing Westchester to publish the magazine so long as the disclaimer was prominent and the appeals court’s ruling Friday upheld that decision.
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