Desborough Ritz told by The Ritz, London to change name

The Ritz in Desborough, Northamptonshire (left) and The Ritz in London (right)
Image caption The Ritz in Desborough (left) is being told to change its name by the famous London hotel (right) of the same name

A venue called The Ritz in Northamptonshire has been told to change its name or face legal action by the owners of the famous London hotel.

The wedding and conference venue in Desborough has used the name since the 1930s, but it has now been given until the new year to alter it.

The Ritz hotel has asked for a name-change agreement to be signed.

Desborough Ritz owner Kris Malde said he thought their email was "a joke". The Ritz in London declined to comment.

The Desborough Ritz has 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.

In a letter sent to Mr Malde, 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."

'Hands are tied'

The solicitors originally asked the Desborough venue to sign an agreement by 16:00 GMT to confirm it would no longer use the name, but its deadline has now been extended until a unspecified date likely to be in the new year.

Mr Malde, whose company also owns gaming machines, properties, men's clothing shops and a social club in Enfield, said: "When I first got the email, I thought it was a joke.

"Our hotel is not going to affect them in any way. We are in Desborough, a rural community in the middle of Northamptonshire."

However, Mr Malde admits pursuing the issue through the courts could prove costly.

"Our hands are tied - we can't afford to lose a battle which we know we have fifty-fifty chance of winning," he said.

Ellerman Investments Limited has declined to comment on the row.

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