Look-a-likes logo registration - Ralph Lauren polo player

Numerous companies are still trying to capitalize on the reputation of well-known brands. They often use visual elements or logos which immediately remind us of well-known trademarks, regardless of the words accompanied by these visual elements. To deal with this type of practices, it is wise to register the logo separately as a self-contained trademark.


When Ralph Lauren is confronted with two new logo applications depicting a polo player in the European Union, the company objects on the grounds of its well-known trademark. The advantage of claiming the familiarity is that a company can not only object to identical products (clothing), but also to non-similar products like toys, for example.

Ralph Lauren substantiates this claim with documentary evidence of the brand’s reputation and use of its trademarks, sales figures, press articles, screen shots from websites, social media, history of the company, advertising material, and more.

All this evidence leads to a sufficient reason for the European trademark authorities to assume the familiarity of the well-known trademark Ralph Lauren. The logos applied for in the EU are both visually as conceptually similar to such an extent, that consumers immediately establish a link between the novel applications and Ralph Lauren. This is a clear example of lousy copying, profiting of the reputation of another’s trademark. The applications were therefore denied.


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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?