May 4, 2016 / 4:41 PM / in 2 years

Ferragamo SpA sues ex-LA Rams quarterback over same-name winery

(Reuters) - Salvatore Ferragamo SpA SFER.MI, the Italian luxury goods maker, on Wednesday sued former Los Angeles Rams football quarterback Vince Ferragamo, saying he infringed its trademarks by operating his namesake winery in southern California.

People walks past a Salvatore Ferragamo shop in downtown Rome, Italy February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Consumers are likely to be confused into thinking the Ferragamo Winery and Ferragamo SpA are related, the Italian company said in a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, where it has stores on Fifth Avenue and elsewhere.

Vince Ferragamo was accused of illegally selling wine with the Tenuta di Ferragamo name, and festooning the website for his winery with images of Tuscany and Italian countryside, even though it is located in Orange Park Acres, California, near Los Angeles.

Ferragamo SpA also challenged Vince Ferragamo’s registration of the Internet domain name, through his company Touchdown Real Estate.

“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,” Ferragamo SpA said. “The defendants’ acts have caused, and will continue to cause, irreparable injury to Salvatore Ferragamo.”

A lawyer for Ferragamo Winery and Vince Ferragamo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit seeks to halt any infringements, recoup triple damages and alleged illegal profits from wine sales, and have wine bearing the Tenuta di Ferragamo name thrown out.

The Ferragamo family in Italy also has a winery in Tuscany, known as Il Borro.

Vince Ferragamo played professional football from 1977 to 1986, and aside from the Rams also played for the Buffalo Bills, the Green Bay Packers and the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes.

He was the Rams’ quarterback in Super Bowl XIV in 1980, which was won by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ferragamo began making wine in 2010, and uses the sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon grapes to produce “Caressa J,” named for his three daughters. It sells for $59 a bottle.

The case is Ferragamo SpA v Ferragamo Winery et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-03313.

Additional reporting by Giulia Segreti in Milan

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