Desborough Ritz backs down over London hotel name threat

The Ritz in Desborough, Northamptonshire (left) and The Ritz in London (right) The Ritz in Desborough (left) was told to change its name by the famous London hotel (right) of the same name in December

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A venue called The Ritz in Northamptonshire has said it is going to alter its name to avoid legal action by the famous London hotel.

The wedding and conference venue in Desborough has used the name since the 1930s, but last month it was asked to sign a name-change agreement.

Kris Malde, Desborough Ritz owner, said he was "very sad", but could not justify the costs of any court action.

He said he would ask the Ritz to contribute to its rebranding costs.

Mr Malde said: "I have talked to my legal advisor, who said the costs involved could not be justified.

"I am very sad. The locals are deeply upset and I have had letters sent to me from many people. The public sympathy has been unbelievable."

Mr Malde said it would cost him about £20,000 to £30,000 to update its branding and marketing and he was looking to approach the hotel to see if it would contribute towards the costs out of "goodwill".

The London Ritz was unavailable for comment.

'Substantial reputation'

Mr Malde plans to run a competition in the local press to suggest a new name, which he said would likely be announced next week.

In a letter sent to Mr Malde last month, the solicitors representing Ritz owners Ellerman Investments Limited, said: "Our clients are concerned to discover that you are using the domain name in connection with a business which appears to be trading as 'The Ritz' and offering banqueting and conference services.

"Our clients cannot allow their trademarks to be used without consent.

"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."

The Desborough Ritz recently had a £1m refurbishment and includes rooms like the Berkeley Suite, Kensington Lounge and the Eton Room, with accommodation for 600 guests.

Its 12m x 7m (39.4ft x 23ft) Berkeley Suite has a 100-person capacity, its own private bar and lounge, mood lighting and can cater for civil ceremonies.

By comparison, the Berkeley Suite in the Piccadilly Ritz has 1,200 sq ft (111.5 sq m) of floor space with a marbled lobby, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining area, study and a pantry, and costs many thousands of pounds per night.

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