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U.S. Polo Association Files Suit Over Polo Scent

Lawsuit reignites running dispute with Polo Ralph Lauren over trademarks.

The ponies have ridden into battle once more.

The U.S. Polo Association ended more than a year of relative quiet in its ongoing legal clash with Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. last week when it asked a court to rule that it has the right to market a line of branded fragrances.

In a suit filed Nov. 13 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the USPA, the sport’s national governing body, accused the New York-based apparel firm of blocking its efforts to use its trademarks in a perfume licensing program.

A spokeswoman for Polo Ralph Lauren said Tuesday the company does not comment on pending litigation.

According to the complaint, the USPA applied with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register its Double Horsemen and other trademarks for fragrances earlier this year. Polo Ralph Lauren opposed the Double Horsemen filing and allowed its own fragrance licensee to lead negotiations between the two camps, the suit said.

The USPA contends Polo Ralph Lauren rejected its settlement bid and has not made a counterproposal.

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The Lexington, Ky.-based sporting association further alleges that its own licensee, Jordache Ltd., has said it will not offer USPA fragrances to many retailers because it believes they will not carry goods opposed by Polo Ralph Lauren.

The USPA has asked the court for a judgment that finds it can use its Double Horsemen insignia and other trademarks for fragrances in the United States.

“PRL’s opposition significantly impedes the ability of the U.S. Polo Association to fully exploit its valuable trademarks,” the firm’s attorneys wrote.

The suit is the latest in a history of legal wrangling between the two parties that dates to 1984, when the USPA first sought to license its name. In October 2005, a judge granted the USPA and Jordache the right to use three versions of the association’s Double Horsemen mark in an apparel line, but rejected a fourth. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the ruling in March 2008.