In early September, a New York district court granted defendants United States Polo Association, Inc. (“USPA”) and Arvind Ltd.’s (“Arvind”) motion to compel arbitration. It further dismissed Ralph Lauren Corporation and its subsidiaries’ (collectively “Ralph Lauren”) complaint alleging breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, and unjust enrichment.
This action was the latest in a longstanding battle between Ralph Lauren and the USPA, who have been actively involved in trademark litigation since 1984. A 2003 settlement resolved disputes concerning USPA’s use of logos and trademarks with their sale of apparel. The settlement further contained an arbitration provision that would govern any dispute between the parties arising from the settlement agreement.
Ralph Lauren alleged that USPA/Arvind breached this settlement agreement by selling products that infringed upon their protected trademarks without language that indicated that the two companies were not affiliated. It also alleged that the defendants waived arbitration by filing to enforce arbitration in India instead of New York. The court rejected Ralph Lauren’s argument that the defendants waived their right to arbitration because Ralph Lauren showed neither substantive prejudice nor prejudice due to excessive cost and time delay. The court found that USPA/Arvind were not attempting to re-litigate any issue in arbitration. It further noted that “[i]t was the Polo plaintiffs, not USPA/Arvind, that filed the present action in the Southern District of New York and that postponed the arbitration proceedings in India,” negating a claim for excessive cost and delay. Finally, the court found that Ralph Lauren’s fraudulent inducement and remaining claims should be handled through arbitration. Ralph Lauren Corp. v. United States Polo Ass’n, No. 13 Civ. 7147 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 4, 2014).