A legal adviser to Europe's highest court ruled yesterday (19 January) that Elizabeth Emanuel, best known as the designer of Princess Diana's wedding dress, has no right to use her own name.

Commenting on his decision, Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer, the advocate general of the European Court of Justice, said that the use of a trademark made up of a person's name in the conduct of a business does not deceive the public, even where the public is unaware that the relevant person has no connection with the business.

British courts now have to decide a final ruling, which is expected later this year and is likely to follow the advocate general's opinion.

The judgment follows a six-year legal dispute after the designer sold all assets of the 'Elizabeth Emanuel' business, including its goodwill and trademark, to Juice Corporation in 1997.

Juice Corporation, a Manchester-based fashion and licensing business whose brands also include Joe Bloggs, Slazenger, Katharine Hamnett and Gabicci, continued using the trademark after Emanuel stopped working for the company.

But Emanuel's lawyers argued that consumers were under the mistaken impression that she continued to design the goods bearing her name.

Juice Corporation's managing director Kashif Ahmed said the company was delighted to be a step closer to having clarity on an issue that had dragged on for several years.

"The decision is a significant one as it sets a precedent for not only the fashion industry but any company internationally involved in the purchase of businesses with name-associated trade marks."

The Juice Corporation now intends to use the Elizabeth Emanuel trademark on a range of lifestyle merchandise that could include clothing and accessories, perfume and cosmetics, home ware, lingerie and bridal wear.