August 5, 2009 / 6:08 PM / in 8 years

Relatives barred from using Gucci brand name in U.S.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A judge barred a Gucci heir’s ex-wife and her daughter from using their names commercially in the United States without trademark approval on Wednesday, saying they could confuse consumers and damage the brand.

Jennifer Gucci and her daughter, Gemma Gucci, have developed a line of coffee, cosmetics and other goods using their names and, in some cases, a green and red stripe that is similar to the famous brand’s trademark design.

They have also displayed their initials in a diamond pattern similar to the trademarked Gucci signature.

Gucci, owned by French luxury goods seller PPR (PRTP.PA), sued the women and their licensing agent, Edward Litwak, in federal court, seeking an injunction and unspecified damages.

In a ruling that followed a bench trial in June, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said the products and their branding were “confusingly similar” to Gucci merchandise and issued a permanent injunction against their commercial use.

Berman ordered the women to obtain trademark approval, notify Gucci and meet other conditions before placing their names on products that include coffee, bedding, housewares, cosmetics, hosiery, handbags, wine and gelato.

The injunction also applied to Litwak.

“The court concludes that (Gucci) has proven that defendants willfully infringed and diluted the Gucci trademarks,” Berman wrote in the ruling.

Possible punitive damages will be determined by a magistrate judge.

    Gemma Gucci declined to comment and a lawyer for the three defendants was not immediately available for comment.

    Jennifer Gucci married Paolo Gucci in 1977, when he was the chief designer for the Italian fashion house, and filed for divorce in 1991, she said in court papers. Their daughter, Gemma, 26, is a New York investment banker.

    Since 1998, Jennifer Gucci has applied to register multiple trademarks using her name, including for the “Jennifer Designed by Jennifer Gucci” line of clothing, jewelry and housewares, and for a line of coffee shops.

    Those applications were denied by federal trademark officials.

    Similar applications by Gemma Gucci were also denied.

    Editing by Daniel Trotta and Paul Simao

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