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Gucci Appeals Guess Ruling in Milan

The Italian court previously rejected Gucci's claim that Guess Inc. violated several of its “iconic” trademarks.

MILAN — Guccio Gucci SpA said Monday that it has appealed an Italian court’s decision that rejected its claim that Guess Inc. violated several of its “iconic” trademarks.

“The appeal is a necessary action to protect its extraordinary historic wealth of iconic distinctive signs, famous the world over and, more generally, to protect the values of creativity and innovation of quality of Made in Italy products,” Gucci said.

Last year, Gucci won a qualified victory against Guess in a Manhattan federal court in a suit that claimed some of Guess’ designs and logos were directly inspired by Gucci’s collections. While the court ruled in its favor, Gucci was awarded only $4.7 million in damages, a fraction of the upward of $221 million it sought.

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In May, a Milan court ruled that Guess’s Quattro G-diamond pattern is not related to Gucci’s interlocking double-G pattern. The verdict also declared the diamond-patterned G logo and Flora pattern trademarks, previously registered by Gucci in Italy and the European Union, null and void.

With regard to losing the battle on home turf, Gucci called the Milan court’s decision taken in May “surprisingly negative” and said that it is challenging such a decision and requesting a reversal of the ruling, which also subsequently canceled three logos Gucci registered for Italy and the European Community.

Gucci said that it has made several attempts to resolve the issue with Guess Inc. out of the courtroom.

“The seriousness and broadness of the violations of which Guess is accused, together with its unavailability to find a serious, reasonable solution, have rendered our attempts to settle the case out of court futile,” Gucci said.

Gucci’s comments contradict an earlier statement made by Paul Marciano, chief executive officer of Guess. “In my opinion, the three-year battle in New York and four years in Milan was a result of massive and unnecessary litigation that should have been easily resolved with a simple phone call, which Gucci never made,” Marciano said.

Commenting on Gucci’s appeal while in Florence, Marciano said, “After the 83-page ruling with a three-judge panel in Milan and reviewing the findings, we feel very confident in our facts. We will address Gucci’s appeal in our reply briefs. Gucci executives in the U.S. misled the court and we see similar facts in the Milan court. We will wait for the final outcome.”

A Gucci spokesperson said that Gucci’s other suits against Guess in both China and France are ongoing.

Fondazione Altagamma, the Italian association of luxury goods companies, has assisted Italian luxury goods companies like Gucci in similar cases since the early Nineties.

Aside from intellectual property and unfair competition issues, Italian luxury leaders are battling rising tariffs, trade restrictions and an onslaught of counterfeit goods that obtain a ticket into Italy and the rest of the EU through the Internet and international postal services, said Armando Branchini, vice chairman of Fondazione Altagamma and executive team president of the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance.

Ridding the world of counterfeit goods and the presence of tariff and non-tariff barriers, would help lift the global value of luxury goods consumption and employment by about 30 to 35 percent, Branchini added.