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Kenya’s Wardrobe Collections loses fight for ‘Polo’ to SA firm

Justice Tuiyott
Justice Tuiyott said that it was evident that the application by Wardrobe Collection was for a trade mark over goods. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A South African firm has won a court battle with a Kenyan firm over the use of the Polo brand on shoes and clothing.

Justice Francis Tuiyott agreed with LA Group (PTY) ltd, a company registered in South Africa, which argued that it has used the word Polo since the 1970s and therefore had the sole brand right in Africa.

The company moved court after the Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks dismissed its objection and allowed the registration of trade mark “Classic Polo” by Wardrobe Collections, a firm registered in Kenya and deals with similar products.

In the judgment, Justice Tuiyott said that it was evident that the application by Wardrobe Collection was for a trade mark over goods, which LA Group was already the registered proprietor in Africa.

The Polo brand is owned by the US top fashion designer Ralph Lauren, who started the menswear in 1968.

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The South African company argued that it was a leader in selling and distribution of branded clothes, footwear, accessories and other products and has a number of subsidiaries, which it has granted licences for use of its mark in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya.

LA Group told the court that it applied and registered the use of Polo in Kenya in April 2014 and Polo Pony in January 2014.

The South African company said it had also spent considerable amount of time, money and effort in advertising, marketing and promotion of its goods under Polo trade mark, such that its brand was well known in Kenya.

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