AN ITALIAN leather manufacturer appears to have lost an international legal struggle to prevent a former German company from using a trade name similar to their own to market furniture upholstered with leather bought from alternative suppliers. In a test case at the European Court of Justice, Italian Leather, of Bironto, Italy, failed to establish that a ruling they secured at Bari District Court should overrule a decision made earlier at the Regional Court, Koblenz, Germany.

The Italian court had stated that the German company WECO should not continue marketing upholstered furniture under the brand name ‘naturia longlife by Maurizio Danieli’, similar to Italian Leather’s LongLife brand. However, the German court said WECO could continue to use the name.

The Bironto company had been WECO’s supplier, but the relationship broke down after the Germans ‘complained of defective performance of the contract’. The Italians had claimed that under the Brussels Convention, which establishes the jurisdiction of European Union courts in cross-border civil cases, the Bari court should carry precedence.

Italian Leather and WECO had earlier agreed that Bari should decide disputes regarding their contract. But the ECJ ruled that it was the court in the country where a remedy was sought, (stopping WECO from using the trade name in Germany), that should have the final say.