Court: You Have His Name But You Can't Have 'Versace' Money

A man who says he is a relative of the late clothing designer Gianni Versace cannot use the Italian fashion house's name for any commercial purposes, a U.S. appeals court has ruled.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling that barred Alfredo Versace, a New York state resident, from selling clothing, handbags, bottled water and other items that carry the Versace name.

Over the years, Alfredo Versace has been cited numerous times for violating court orders and infringing the famed Versace trademark.

In 1998, a Manhattan federal judge barred him from using the Versace name unless it included a disclaimer stating it was not affiliated with the Italian company.

U.S. District Judge Peter Leisure later extended the ban to prohibit Alfredo Versace from selling products under the Versace name with or without the disclaimer. The judge issued a permanent injunction last year barring him from the commercial use of the Versace name anywhere in the world, a decision that Alfredo Versace appealed to the 2nd Circuit.

The fashion house is "very pleased with the court's decision," Elizabeth Adinolfi, a lawyer for the company, said Thursday. She said Alfredo Versace shares a last name with Gianni Versace, but "we have never found any evidence that there is any relation."

An attorney for Alfredo Versace, Leonard Zack, said it was "unfortunate that the court found this way." In particular, Zack said, he disagreed with the finding that the lower court had the authority to ban Alfredo Versace's commercial use of the Versace name outside of the United States.