PARIS — Kenzo Takada took LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to court Tuesday, claiming “abusive exploitation of his brand” and a breach of contract.

He’s suing LVMH for 18.4 million euros, or approximately $24.4 million at current exchange.

The Japanese designer filed a lawsuit with the civil court here, alleging that LVMH, owner of Kenzo SA since 1993, has no right to use the brand name Kenzo Takada in any language.

According to Takada’s attorney, Celine Degoulet, the designer’s right to use his first and last names had reverted to him in 1996.

However, LVMH maintains that Takada had only been given the right to use his full name in Latin letters under particular, noncompetitive circumstances.

LVMH attorney Joelle Aknin said: “In a contract dated May 13, 2002, Kenzo Takada acknowledged that the brand name in [Chinese letters] are the property of Kenzo SA.”

In December 2000, Takada tried to copyright the name Kenzo Takada in Chinese characters in Japan, but couldn’t since Kenzo SA had already used the name on several of its products there. Takada left Kenzo SA in 1999 to focus on design and household products.

The Paris court will hand down its decision on May 11.

This story first appeared in the February 23, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.