The owners of a wedding and conference venue have been ordered to stop using their name by lawyers for the world famous Ritz Hotel in London.
Businessman Kris Malde, who bought The Ritz in Desborough and spent £1m giving it a facelift, has received a letter from London law firm Ashurst, which represents Ellerman Investments Ltd, owners of the plush Piccadilly venue.
The lawyers say its clients are concerned Mr Malde’s venue, in the less salubrious surroundings of Station Road, Desborough, is using its trademark.
The lawyers say Ellerman Investments owns a number of registrations around the world for the name Ritz, including those registered for banqueting services, the provision of conferences and exhibitions and entertainment services.
Their letter states: “As you are no doubt aware, The Ritz Hotel was opened by Cesar Ritz in 1906, and since then its owners have built up a very substantial reputation and goodwill throughout the world in The Ritz Hotel (which is known throughout the world as The Ritz) and the Ritz name in connection with hotel, restaurant and catering services, among many others.”
It goes on: “As with any valuable property, our clients cannot allow their trademarks to be used without consent.”
Mr Malde’s family business has now been given until 4pm on Wednesday, December 19, to sign an undertaking that their company will cease to make any further use of the name Ritz.
Mr Malde, 43, of Malde Holdings, based in north London, said: “They are taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“The Ritz has been operating in Desborough, to my knowledge, since the 1930s.
“We are a small family business, trading in difficult times and running a conference centre in a rural community in Northamptonshire.
“What possible threat could we be to The Ritz Hotel in London?
“When I opened the letter I thought it was a joke.”
Mr Malde, whose company also deals in gaming machines, properties and men’s clothing shops and runs a social club in Enfield, is hoping to avoid a courtroom battle by writing to Ashurst setting out his views in a bid to resolve the matter.
He said: “We have a website, www.theritzuk.co.uk, which was a freely available domain name and we bought it.
“I hope the company which owns The Ritz in London will reconsider its options.”
Ashurst states in the letter that its clients take any infringement of their valuable intellectual property rights extremely seriously.
The Ritz in Desborough, which was a cinema until the second half of the past century, stood unused for several years before being bought by the Malde family business.
Since its refurbishment, which included a new roof, balcony and floors, it is doing well with bookings for weddings, conferences and Christmas parties.
A spokesman for Ashurst said: “We would never comment on clients’ matters.”
Tell us what you think about this story.