Henry Dunay Loses Battle Over Use of Own Name

On Nov. 14, legendary designer Henry Dunay lost a court battle with the new owners of the Henry Dunay company, and now faces severe restrictions on how he uses his name on social networks and the Internet.

Dunay’s former company went bankrupt in June 2009, and its intellectual property was subsequently purchased by Sandawana Holdings in March 2010. Sandawana relaunched the Dunay company last February.

In April, Sandawana sued Dunay over his use of the Henrydunay.net domain, which it charged was being used to promote Dunay’s new company, HDD, Inc. In August, the two sides agreed to a settlement agreement, which enjoined Dunay from selling from the Henrydunay.net site, and prohibits him from using any of the “Henry Dunay trademarks” to sell jewelry. Dunay was given 30 days to make the changes.

Two months later, the two sides were back in court, arguing whether the site had indeed been changed.

“Defendant’s non-compliance with the court order is clear and convincing,” said papers filed in October by Sandawana, which complain that Dunay continues to use henrydunay.net to promote his new company, and that the site prominently displays the words “Henry Dunay, master designer.”

In response, Dunay’s attorney complained that Sandawana’s demands were “non-specific” and kept escalating.

On Nov. 14, a judge ruled in Sandawana’s favor, and put new restrictions on how Dunay can use his name on Facebook and Twitter. Sandawana will also take over the Henrydunay.net site, which was initially purchased by Dunay’s fiancé.

In addition, when HDD advertises new products, the ads can only say they were “designed by Henry Dunay,” but those words have to be in smaller letters than HDD Inc.

“The big attraction has to be HDDI, not Henry Dunay,” says Sandawana’s attorney, veteran industry trademark lawyer Peter Berger.

Dunay tells JCK the court case over how he can use his name has been “worse than the bankruptcy.”

“I just want this to be over with, so they can let me do what I do best, not spending time with lawyers,” he says.

But Berger argues that Sandawana paid a lot of money for the Dunay name and all that comes with it.

“When you go into bankruptcy and you sell your famous name, which is also a trademark, you have severe limitations on how you can use it,” Berger says. “Those limitations mean you can’t use your name to promote your jewelry. The court said he can’t use Henry Dunay as the attraction point. That’s what happens when you sell your trademark.”