Mallet-swinging logos face off in Luxembourg

Multinational designer clothing and fragrance company Ralph Lauren is taking a London clothing company to the European Court of Justice to prevent it from registering a logo featuring a bike polo player.

Ralph Lauren says Chunk Clothing’s logo, which depicts a bike rider swinging a polo mallet, is too similar to its own famous mallet-wielding horse rider.

But according to Kiran Randhawa in the Evening Standard Ralph Lauren lost an appeal earlier this year that aimed to prevent Chunk registering the trademark.

The Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market had decided to grant Chunk’s request to register its bike-rider logo and when Ralph Lauren appealed, the decision went against it and it was ordered to pay €850 (£716) of Chunk’s costs.

The Ralph Lauren Polo logo

Chunk has spent £50,000 on the dispute with Ralph Lauren so far and has been trying to register the trademark for four years. Trevor Callaghan, Chunk's director of finance, said: “[The process] seems to be loaded in favour of the big corporates. They have big pockets.”

The Chunk Clothing logo

It’s not the first time Ralph Lauren has attempted to defend itself against visuals it deems too similar to its own. In 2011 a US federal judge ruled that the the U.S. Polo Association could not use its logo, which shows two horseback polo riders, one swinging a mallet through the air, for a fragrance.

The USPA claimed that Ralph Lauren was “attempting to monopolize the depiction of the sport of polo”. But the court found that the combination of the dual rider logo, the word polo and a perfume bottle could cause “customer confusion”.

Islington-based Chunk sponsors a London bike polo team and supported the 2009 European championships in Geneva and the 2010 world’s in Berlin.

The resurgence of all things urban and cycling in the last few years has included a boom in bike polo. A London league, the London Hardcourt Bike Polo Association, was founded in 2009 and is working toward the creation of a UK-wide body.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.