Hit London restaurant told to drop Cipriani name

LONDON Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:46am EST

LONDON Dec 10 (Reuters Life!) - London's famed Cipriani restaurant, favoured by the likes of David Beckham and Naomi Campbell, may have to change its name or close down following a law suit brought by Venice's Hotel Cipriani.

A British High Court judge has ruled that the restaurant's owners, father and son team Arrigo and Giuseppe Cipriani, are breaking trademark law by using the Cipriani brand name, which belongs in Europe to the Orient-Express Hotels group.

The decision means the Mayfair restaurant, a favourite hangout of the celebrity jet-set since it opened in 2004, may have to shut if it is not willing to choose a new name.

The restaurant-owning Ciprianis said they were shocked by the ruling and would appeal.

"We are extremely disappointed by the court's decision," the company said in a statement issued in New York. The company still uses the name Cipriani in the United States.

"In light of the fact we have the right to use the Cipriani family name in connection with our businesses in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, this decision is quite shocking."

The Orient-Express group, which has owned the Cipriani trademark since 1996, says it will now seek an injunction preventing the Ciprianis from using the names Cipriani and Cipriani London for restaurant services in Britain.

"We are obviously very pleased that this action has been successful," said Paul White, chief executive of the Orient-Express group. "We are entitled to protect this famous name in Europe and it was important to us to do so."

Venice's Hotel Cipriani was built in 1958 by Lord Iveagh of the Guinness family and Giuseppe Cipriani Snr, owner of the city's famous Harry's Bar.

In 1967, Cipriani Snr sold his stake in the hotel and agreed to give it sole rights to trade under the name "Cipriani".

But in 2004 Cipriani's son Arrigo, now 76, and grandson Giuseppe, 43, opened Cipriani restaurant in London, attracting celebrities such as the Beckhams and Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone with rich Tuscan wines and haute cuisine.

In his ruling, High Court judge Justice Arnold determined that the restaurant, its Luxembourg-based parent company Cipriani SA and Giuseppe Cipriani had all breached English community trademark law.

The ruling comes as a further blow to the Ciprianis, who pleaded guilty in July 2007 to evading $10 million (6.7 million pounds) of New York state and city taxes. (Editing by Paul Casciato)

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