NEW YORK — Gianni Versace SpA’s more than eight-year battle against Alfredo Versace moved a step closer to conclusion last week, with a Manhattan federal court judge coming out strongly in the designer’s favor.
In an opinion and order signed Jan. 21, U.S. District Court Judge Peter K. Leisure ordered the three pending cases involving Alfredo’s use of the Versace name to be consolidated into one case. The judge entered a default judgment against Alfredo in two of the cases and issued a permanent injunction barring Alfredo from using the Versace name on clothing, accessories and even bottled water.
“After enduring more than eight years of litigation marked by the infringing and contumacious conduct of Alfredo, the court finds that Gianni has proven actual success on the merits and irreparable harm sufficient to warrant the entry of a permanent injunction,” wrote Leisure in his discussion of the case.
“Alfredo compares the entry of a permanent injunction to a ‘death sentence,’” continued Leisure. “The court is no longer willing to entertain such pleas from Alfredo. The time for words has passed. Actions are the true measure of a party’s intentions and Alfredo has failed to act in a manner that assures this court that he will end his infringing conduct in the future.”
According to Leisure, Alfredo — who claims to be related to the late designer but has yet to offer any proof — had been found in contempt for violating the terms of a 1998 preliminary injunction “no less than five times.” In fact, Gianni Versace’s 1998 lawsuit accused Alfredo of even placing an ad in WWD seeking people to license his “A.V. Versace” trademarks.
In April 2004, Leisure found Alfredo in contempt and ordered him to jail. However, according to David Jacoby, a partner with Phillips Nizer LLP and legal counsel to Gianni Versace, Alfredo did not end up serving any time. “He had made a lot of noise about his efforts toward compliance,” said Jacoby.
According to the judge, the determination of damages will be addressed at a trial. “There is really no place left for him to hide at this juncture,” said Jacoby.
Meanwhile, Cartier has reached a consent judgment in its case against Philadelphia-based TNS Diamonds Inc., which conducts retail operations through jewelers-row2.com and tnsdiamonds.com. The luxury watch giant filed suit against the online retailer on Aug. 18 and obtained a preliminary injunction against the company on Sept. 1. According to the Jan. 18 judgement, TNS is permanently enjoined from using the Cartier or Panerai trademarks. A financial settlement was also reached, details of which were not disclosed.