In the Spanish movie The amazing world of Borjamari and Pocholo, two young men of high social position have a heated debate about who would win in a fight, Ralph Lauren’s horse or Lacoste’s crocodile. After presenting their respective arguments in the tone of the surrealist comedy – if the crocodile bite would make the horse fall, or if it could crush it by jumping on it, the discussion ends without agreement, in a draw. Now, out of the jocular dilemmas of fiction, the horse of the well-known American brand has also been involved in a brawl, in this judicial case, and with a Madrid company as a rival. The result leaves no room for doubt: the European judges have agreed with the New York fashion firm that it has the right to maintain as a trademark of the Union its iconic logo, in which a polo player on horseback holds up his stick, as if preparing to hit the ball.
The controversy began five years ago, when the Madrid-based company Style & Taste SL, mainly dedicated to men’s fashion, filed a lawsuit for the cancellation of the brand. He alleged that his drawing, very similar, has been registered since 1997, eight years before that of his American rival, even though it is much more famous. And that their resemblance makes coexistence impossible, because there was a “risk of confusion” for consumers.
The case came to the hands of the EUIPO, the EU’s intellectual property office, in charge of legally registering trademarks and logos in the Twenty-seven. And that’s when the blows began for the Madrid entity. The first was in May 2018, when the agency rejected his request to annul Ralph Lauren’s horse as a trademark. The second defeat came shortly after, in 2019, after appealing the decision before the EUIPO, which argued that the registration of the drawing of the company in the Spanish capital had expired in 2017. And the third, on Wednesday before the General Court of the EU , who rejected a new appeal from Style & Taste in which he argued that Spanish laws did not allow him to renew the registration of the drawing, but that despite this, it remained his because he registered it much earlier, regardless of whether it had expired.
This approach did not convince the European judges, who in their judgment concluded that Style & Taste did not demonstrate that the use of a trademark can be prohibited on the basis of a drawing whose registration has already expired. And he points out that, having expired, his model has become in the public domain and can be used by all Spaniards, so the EU’s intellectual property office did well not to take action against Ralph Lauren.
On the website of Marengo, one of the brands with which the Spanish firm operates, where you can see the logo of discord at the bottom, thus justifies the importance they give to the use of the horse in their logos: “It all started with the first rider, from then on everything started to go faster for the man. The horse represents a varied mix of unique associations; speed, independence, elegance, nobility, adventure … The horse has been like a second skin for many men from many and varied cultures throughout history, essential in everyday life, in certain aspects such as clothing ”.