LA Group's Application for Leave to Appeal against a Judgment that Ordered the Cancellation of over 40 of their trade marks - Dismissed by the High Court of South Africa

​​​​​​​​In the battle between two "polo" brand retailers, the U.S. Polo Assn. brand through its exclusive Licensee for South Africa, Stable Brands (Pty) Ltd., wins another significant legal battle against rival fashion brand LA Group (Pty) Ltd. in South Africa.

After the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria ordered that over 40 registered trademarks in the name of LA Group be canceled and expunged from the trademark register in South Africa, LA Group filed a notice of application for leave to appeal the Judgment and Order on Dec. 2, 2019. The application for leave to appeal was heard on Feb. 20, 2020, and was dismissed in its entirety. 

In the original comprehensive judgment issued Nov. 29, 2019, the Judge made some notable remarks with respect to the word “polo,” finding that it is non-distinctive in a trademark sense. The Court also held that, in some instances, LA Group failed to provide clear and compelling evidence of use or an intention to use certain of its trademarks in South Africa. 

The full determination which shall stand can be read here: http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAGPPHC/2019/567.html

“The dismissal of LA Group’s application for leave to appeal reinforces the strength of the original Judgment and Order and aids the continued growth of the U.S. POLO ASSN. brand in the region,” according to J. Michael Prince, president and CEO of USPA Global Licensing (USPAGL). “We look forward to bringing new and exciting designs to the marketplace and to educating the South African people about the authentic connection between the U.S. POLO ASSN. brand and the exciting sport of polo.”

The iconic U.S. POLO ASSN. brand’s trendy apparel and other merchandise has been sold in South Africa for many years, and in 2018 USPA partnered with Stable Brands to increase its presence. USPA has registered trademarks dating back to 2007 in South Africa, and has an absolute right to use those trademarks in commerce, despite the strenuous efforts and attempts of LA Group to claim otherwise and to block USPA’s famous brand from being offered to the South African market.

About U.S. Polo Assn. and USPA Global Licensing Inc. (USPAGL):

U.S. Polo Assn. is the official brand of the United States Polo Association (USPA), the nonprofit governing body for the sport of polo in the United States founded in 1890, making it one of the oldest sports governing bodies. With a global footprint of $1.7 billion and worldwide distribution through more than 1,100 U.S. Polo Assn. retail stores, department stores, independent retailers and e-commerce, U.S. Polo Assn. offers apparel for men, women and children, as well as accessories, footwear, travel and home goods in 180 countries worldwide. Recently ranked the 4th largest sports licensor and 36th overall in License Global magazine’s 2019 list of “Top 150 Global Licensors”, U.S. Polo Assn. now takes its place alongside iconic sports brands such as Major League Baseball, National Football League and National Basketball Association.  

About Stable Brands (Pty) Ltd.:

Stable Brands (Pty) Ltd, a proudly South African company, has decades of experience working with various international apparel brands. The company recently increased its portfolio by securing the distribution rights of the U.S. Polo Assn. brand into South Africa. Stable Brands employs an array of world-class talent to ensure that the U.S. POLO ASSN. brand is well-positioned in the South African market to be the lifestyle brand of choice.  

For further information on U.S. Polo Assn. contact: 
Stacey Kovalsky - Senior Director, Global Communications
Phone +001.561.790.8036 – Email: [email protected]

For further information on Stable Brands (Pty) Ltd. contact: 
Eben van Wyk - Spoor & Fisher 
Phone +27 21 673 4439 – Email: [email protected]

Source: USPA Global Licensing Inc.


Tags: J. Michael Prince, Pretoria, retail, South Africa, Stable Brands, trademark, U.S. POLO ASSN., USPA, USPA Global Licensing Inc., USPAGL

Stacey Kovalsky
Senior Director, Global Communications, USPA Global Licensing Inc.