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Family barred from using Gucci name on goods

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TOM HAYS | August 5, 2009 03:11 PM EST | AP

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NEW YORK — A judge has barred the ex-wife and daughter of Italian fashion scion Paolo Gucci from selling the family name to market handbags, gelato and other goods.

In a decision Wednesday in federal court, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ruled in favor of Manhattan-based Gucci America. The company had sued Jenny and Gemma Gucci for trademark infringement in 2007.

The judge concluded in a written verdict following a non-jury trial that the defendants had "willfully infringed and diluted the Gucci trademarks" by entering into a licensing agreement that resulted in a "confusingly similar" line of products using their names and mimicking Gucci's classic, green-red-green color scheme.

There was no immediate response to a message left for a lawyer for Jenny and Gemma Gucci.

Jenny Gucci was married to Paolo Gucci – grandson of the founder of the family's fashion empire – from 1977 to 1990, when they separated. He died in 1995 after years of family infighting that ultimately drove all the Guccis out of the company that still bears their name.

Gucci and its American branch are now owned by the French retail group PPR SA.

Jenny Gucci, who was described in the ruling as "a classically trained opera singer," testified at the trial in June that she considered Gucci America "Big Gucci," and herself "Little Gucci." She and her daughter – sponsor of a jewelry line called "Gemma by Gemma Gucci" – claimed previous court rulings in trademark cases, including one involving Paolo Gucci, allowed them to use the name.

But Berman wrote that the defendants "did not take precautions to avoid infringing plaintiff's trademarks." His order prohibits the mother and daughter from making any commercial use of their names on a long list of products including "coffee, bedding, housewares, cosmetics, hosiery, handbags, wine and gelato."