Gianni Versace

Versace is facing legal action over the rights to its very name.

La Moda Italiana Inc., a company that operates off-price retail site and holds an Italian license to Versace 1969 Abbigliamento Sportiva SRL of Italy, urged a federal court late last month to protect it from allegations by famed luxury fashion house Gianni Versace SpA that its exclusive trademarks are being infringed upon.

La Moda said Versace 1969 was founded in 2001 by Alessandro Versace, who has no relation to Gianni Versace or the fashion powerhouse he founded in 1978.

Versace 1969 offers men’s and women’s apparel and accessories ranging in price from $30 for a T-shirt to $300 for a leather handbag.

The original Versace sent Versace 1969 a cease-and-desist letter earlier this year allegedly claiming “the mere use” of the Versace name amounts to infringement of its related trademarks and intellectual property.

Despite using the same name, La Moda argued that none of the Versace 1969 logos or trademarks “use any of the Versace trademarks or Versace name in a manner to cause confusion or in any way violate the rights of the defendants in this action,” according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff La Moda Italiana has, however, used the corporate name Versace 1969 Abbigliamento Sportivo SRL in good faith to describe the Italian company standing behind the products it offers for sale,” the company added. “The trademark laws of the United States specifically permit use of descriptive words in the marketing of products even if they form part of a well-established registered trademark.”

The use of the Versace name on actual products and labels was not addressed in the complaint.

A Versace representative could not be reached for comment.

La Moda went on to claim that Versace did not wait for a response to the cease-and-desist letter before allegedly contacting various retailers selling Versace 1969 products and accusing them of infringement, leading many outlets, including, to stop marketing the products.

This amounts to “deliberate disruption of lawful and legitimate business,” the company said in its complaint.

With that, La Moda asked the court to declare that Versace 1969 is not infringing on any Versace trademarks and to find Versace liable for unspecified damages related to interference with business relations and commercial disparagement.

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