NEW YORK — Finnish-born couture wedding dress designer Ulla-Maija Kivimaki is hoping to learn during a Sept. 11 court hearing whether she has the right to use the phrase “Designed by Ulla Maija Kivimaki” on her creations, despite an ongoing battle with former Barneys president Charles Bunstine.
This story first appeared in the September 6, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Kivimaki is embroiled in what may turn into a nasty cat fight in Manhattan federal court. According to court papers, Kivimaki was sued in May by Ulla Maija Inc., which uses the Ulla Maija mark and is now under the direction of Bunstine, for trademark infringement when she tried using the Ulla Maija Kivimaki mark. The May lawsuit claimed infringement on the basis of “confusingly similar designations” to Ulla Maija. The suit, which claimed that Kivimaki had left her employment as president and chief designer of Ulla Maija Inc., is seeking $1 million in general damages, $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
Kivimaki last month launched a bombshell of her own, filing counterclaims for trademark infringement and breach of fiduciary duty, and seeking $5 million in damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Raymond Dowd of Dowd & Marotta, who represents the designer, said, “The lawsuit claims that Bunstine got into her company under false pretenses with the help of fashion attorney Henry Welt, stiffed her on bonuses, made sexual advances to her staff and threw her out of her apartment.”