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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.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.