Versace wins $20 mln damages in counterfeit case

Thu May 6, 2010 12:09pm EDT
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MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Versace won a record compensation of $20 million in a counterfeit case against U.S. retail stores, the Italian fashion house said Thursday.

The medusa-logoed company, whose glittering gowns are worn by film stars such as Drew Barrymore and Penelope Cruz, said the damages awarded by a U.S. court were one of the highest ever obtained by an Italian company in a case brought abroad to protect trademark.

Versace had revenues of 268 million euros ($359.6 million) in 2009. The ruling is immediately executable, the company said.

"We have won a historic judgment, reached at the culmination of the anti-counterfeiting action undertaken by the Group and whose effects will benefit all the luxury Italian brands," Versace's Chief Executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris said in a statement.

Santo Versace, brother of company's founder Gianni who was murdered in 1997, appeared as a key witness in the case.

More than 70 retail stores in Southern California and Arizona and over 110 people were investigated during the case.

Versace's seven-year lawsuit is one of many brought by luxury goods companies to protect their brand names from fraud.

Fendi won a counterfeit case before a Manhattan court in March.

(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>A pedestrian walks past a Versace store in Beijing March 17, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Jason Lee</p>