As you all probably know, marketing gurus have done a brilliant job of associating lifestyle aspirations with premier luxury brands.
Wearing a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, donning a Gucci T-shirt, clutching a Balenciaga bag, all topped off with a spray of Caron Poivre epitomises an elitist way of life that millions of people aspire to.
Justified or not, there’s more to it than the prestige, there’s usually a perception of quality associated with top global brands, some of which have been around for more than a century.
So when the price tag for a single item is more than what some people earn yearly at their jobs, customers must feel it is well worth forking money out for.
But what happens when the iconic brand you are buying is not actually what you think it is? Like finding out that Polo in South Africa has no link to the multi-billion-dollar Polo Ralph Lauren brand in the US.
YES! you’ve read that right, South African Polo and Ralph Lauren Polo are two different brands owned by two different companies and they are not affiliated with each other.
The Ralph Lauren brand is an international brand by an American designer and the South African Polo brand is locally owned by LA Group LTD.
The Ralph Lauren’s logo is a world-famous trademark with a mounted polo player and horse but the mark has been registered in South Africa by LA Group LTD which defeated an attempt by Ralph Lauren to reclaim the mark in 1977 under the old law which recognised only geographical rights.
Under an agreement signed in the 1980s, Ralph Lauren only sells cosmetic and perfume products with the Polo brand in South Africa, and has not challenged the local version of Polo’s right to use the very similar logo on clothing.
But in February 2022, Polo South Africa came close to losing its trademark rights, this came after two judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal agreed with the high court that the brand’s legal protection should be revoked because its very easy to confuse Polo in SA(with a pony facing right) and Ralph Lauren Polo(with a pony facing left).
Luckily for Polo SA, majority of three judges overturned the trademark cancellation, saying it didn’t matter if South Africans think they are buying US fashion brand.
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