Trademark Laws and Intellectual Property

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The World Intellectual Property Organization, Intellectual property is the ‘products of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, any symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce’. Intellectual Properties such as Patents, designs, trademarks and copyrights are protected by laws .The US government offers different types of protection for these properties. The Lanham Act (15 U.S.C.A. section 1051 et seq) also known as the trademark act of 1946 provides protection for trademarks. A trademark is defined as a name, a word, a symbol, or device or any combination thereof, adopted and used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify his goods and distinguish them from those manufactured and sold by others. (Miaoulis 1978)

Over the years, many companies such as scrabble, Tylenol, Channel, Louis Vuitton and even Polo Ralph Lauren (PRL) Corporation have had to fight to protect their intellectual property. By looking more specifically into Polo Ralph Lauren, a fashion company that offers a range of products from clothing to home furnishings, this paper will explore trademark laws and how these laws could be advantageous one hand and limit one group and limit business abilities on another.

PRL USA Holdings, Inc. is the owner and licensor of Polo Ralph Lauren corporation trademarks which include the polo player logo, the term “POLO”, and other words, names and symbols that relate to PRL’s fragrances and other products. Since 1984, many trademark infringement cases have been brought to the court concerning the U.S. Polo Association, Inc. also known as the “USPA” in regards to their infringement of PRLs trademarks. The USPA is also the association for the sport of polo in the USA since 1890.Even though these two companies ha...

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...elated Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) has not only made it easier for companies to register their trademark in one country or another but it has also extended their level of protection against competitors or counterfeiters.

Through the USPA and Polo Ralph Lauren litigations that have spanned for more than 20 years and the South Africa polo example, we can easily see the advantages and limits to Intellectual Property laws. As a famous fashion company, PRL is now protected by many laws across the globe. SA polo would not have been able to operate if their case had happened in this age of globalization. But even with extensive market research and studies, a registered trademark can easily bring a company out of business. Will USPA ever be able to bring products to the market that will not generate confusion in the market and/or infringe PRL’s trademark?
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