What's in a name? It's Gucci vs Gucci

The fashion house is challenging the descendants of its founder over the use of the family surname

By Kate Youde
Sunday 23 October 2011 01:01

On one side is a luxury goods brand loved by celebrities and fashionistas across the globe; on the other, the great-granddaughter of the empire's founder. Welcome to the battle of Gucci vs Gucci.

The fashion house is taking legal action against Elisabetta Gucci after she announced plans this month to launch a worldwide chain of hotels in her name. The first, an 87-room luxury boutique hotel in Dubai, is scheduled to open this year.

The fashion house, now French-owned, has filed a lawsuit against Elisabetta Gucci "seeking injunctive relief in order to protect its rights".

"Following the news that appeared in the last few weeks in some international media titles and the alleged involvement of Gucci fashion house with a certain hotel project, Gucci wants to make clear that it has no relationship to Elisabetta Gucci Hotels and that it is not involved in any project whatsoever with Elisabetta Gucci Hotels," said a statement yesterday from Gucci, which made €2.3bn (£1.9bn) in revenue last year.

"Earlier this week, Gucci filed a lawsuit in Florence, Italy, against Elisabetta Gucci and the parties involved seeking injunctive relief in order to protect its rights," it continued.

Ms Gucci, who is not involved with the fashion house and is artistic director of an Italian interiors and accessories company, plans to open 40 hotels across the world over the next 15 years. According to her website, Elisabetta Gucci Hotels & Resorts will offer "outstanding luxury and true Italian lifestyle in hospitality".

The Abu Dhabi developer Baitek International Real Estate is a partner in the development. No one involved in the project was available for comment yesterday.

However, Lorens Ziller, the managing director of Elisabetta Gucci Hotels, said of the Dubai development earlier this week that Ms Gucci was "doing her job".

"She cannot cancel her name or her background," he told Bloomberg. "If she has a famous name or a famous background, that's not her fault and we are not trying to use it as much."

The lawsuit is the latest battle the sensitive fashion house has embarked upon to protect its image. They include a successful trademark lawsuit against the Chinese shoemaker Senda in 2008. Gucci lost a High Court duel with a small Birmingham fashion shop last year when it argued the store's use of the brand name Duccio could confuse customers.

Top luxury brands are eager to target Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, with branded hotels. Giorgio Armani opened his first luxury hotel in Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper, in April and personally designed some of its 160 rooms. The group plans more Armani-branded hotels in other cities, including Italy's fashion capital, Milan. Palazzo Versace Dubai, a waterfront hotel decked out with Italian furnishings, is due to open next year. The first Palazzo Versace opened on Australia's Gold Coast in 2000.

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