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)