Italian design house Salvatore Ferragamo SpA has filed suit against former Los Angeles Rams football quarterback Vince Ferragamo, accusing him of infringing its trademarks by operating a similarly-named winery. According to Ferragamo SpA’s complaint, which was filed on Wednesday in the Southern District of New York, a federal court in Manhattan, Vince Ferragamo is selling wine with the Tenuta di Ferragamo name, and is likely to confuse consumers (the key inquiry in a trademark infringement action) into believing the two are connected or that Ferragamo SpA has endorsed the venture as a result.
Per Ferragamo SpA's complaint, Vince Ferragamo, who began making wine in 2010, is running afoul of federal trademark law for using the Ferragamo name in connection with the winery and sale of wine. By using the brand's name and portraying that his wine is Italian, the design house alleges that the ex-football star is likely to confuse consumers. And Ferragamo SpA claims that the Ferragamo Winery website does not help. According to the complaint, Ferragamo SpA alleges that Vine Ferragamo's website leads consumers to believe that the winery is located in Italy and/or is affiliated with an Italian winery, as the site bears images of Tuscany and Italian countryside, even though the winery is actually located in Orange Park Acres, California, near Los Angeles.
Finally, Ferragamo SpA is also taking issue with Vince Ferragamo's registration of the Internet domain name, www.ferragamowinery.com. As a result of the foregoing, Ferragamo SpA claims that consumers are likely to be confused into thinking the Ferragamo Winery and Ferragamo SpA are related: "The defendants are likely to cause consumer confusion with the plaintiff, as well as to dilute the plaintiff's trademarks, which include two federally registered trademarks for wine. The defendants' acts have caused, and will continue to cause, irreparable injury to Salvatore Ferragamo."
The complaint asserts claims of trademark infringement and dilution, and the asks the court to award Ferragamo SpA monetary damages (including disgorging Vince Ferragamo of profits earned from the winery) and injunctive relief, which would immediately and permanently prohibit Ferragamo from using the name in connection with the winery.
Ferragamo SpA, like a number of other high fashion brands, such as Robert Cavalli, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, of course, has a financial stake in vineyards producing wine for retail.
UPDATED (SEPTEMBER 14, 2017): Ferragamo and Vince Ferragamo have settled the trademark suit. As a result of a confidential agreement, the parties agreed that all claims in the complaint were to be dismissed with prejudice, with both sides to pay their own costs and attorneys’ fees.