Northern Ireland

Cipriani restaurant forced to change name in trademark dispute

Image caption The Belfast restaurateur said he chose the name after reading about rugby player Danny Cipriani

A new restaurant in Northern Ireland is being forced to change its name due to a trademark dispute with a famous Italian hotel.

The Hotel Cipriani in Venice, popular with Hollywood stars and royalty, took legal action against Cipriani pizzeria on Belfast's Lisburn Road.

At Belfast High Court on Friday, the hotel sought an injunction claiming its Europe-wide trademark had been flouted.

The owner of the pizzeria has agreed to stop using the name within four days.

The judge warned him that if he failed to comply with the terms agreed in court he could face a fine or even a prison sentence.


The new business opened in the summer and is owned by Salvatore Liberante - a Sicilian-born restaurateur whose previous ventures in Belfast include Speranzas and Antica Roma.

The High Court was told Mr Liberante was proposing to change the name of his pizzeria from Cipriani to Sipriano, and this offer was being put forward for consideration by the hotel.

The restaurateur has also agreed to a series of undertakings, including the destruction of all menus, advertisements, and other materials bearing the plaintiff's trademark and the transferral of the pizzeria's online domain name.

Barrister David Dunlop, appearing for the hotel, confirmed all these steps were to be completed within three weeks.

Adjourning the case until then, Mr Justice Horner stressed the need for the defendants to comply with the terms agreed.

He said: "If they are breached they are liable to be sent to jail or to be fined, so it is obviously important."

Outside the court, Mr Liberante expressed his shock at the proceedings and explained that he had chosen the name after reading press reports about an English rugby international.

Celebrity fans

"During the summer when I was looking for a name there was a lot of write-ups about Danny Cipriani, and I just liked the name," he said.

"When I looked on the internet there was nobody in Ireland or the UK using it.

"I had no idea that they had changed the law regarding copyright and European trademarks, I always thought it was first come, first served."

Mr Liberante accepted he has no choice other than to make the name change.

"The law is the law," he added.

"I have agreed to change two letters, hopefully that will be the close of the dispute.

"I can't really see anybody in Venice being affected by the fact there is a Sipriano in Belfast."

Hotel Cipriani opened in 1958 and describes itself as "one of the world's most exclusive hotels".

In an article for Forbes magazine earlier this year, hotel reviewer Annie Fitzsimmons wrote: "To call the Hotel Cipriani a favourite of celebrities would be like calling the Pope Catholic."

She listed movies stars George Clooney and Gwyneth Paltrow among its famous fans.