Och-Ziff Sues London Firm for Impersonation, Name Use

Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, the New York-based hedge-fund firm run by Daniel Och, is suing a London investment adviser and its founder to block the use of the Och name.

Och-Ziff’s European unit asked a London court for an injunction to stop OCH Capital LLP and its founder Thomas Ochocki from using the first portion of its name. It is also seeking damages for trademark infringement and passing itself off as the New York firm, which has more than $26 billion in assets under management.

Guy Hollingworth, a lawyer for Och-Ziff, said today at the start of a two-day trial in London that OCH Capital’s cooperation “has been totally unsatisfactory and inexcusable.”

Michael Cohen, the chief executive officer of Och-Ziff Management Europe Ltd., testified about the importance of Europe to the firm’s business, saying Och-Ziff has 50 percent of its assets under management outside of the U.S. and 40 percent of its investors in Europe. It has about 65 employees in the U.K. and manages $1.5 billion in assets for people there, Cohen said.

A lawyer for OCH Capital, Alistair Wilson, said the London-based firm pronounces its name as initials, and offered to Och-Ziff to clarify that late last year.

“Our client said they were willing to change to O.C.H. to make it clear that it was pronounced O-C-H,” Wilson said at the first day of the trial. “That was rejected.”

First Three Letters

OCH Capital is named after the first three letters of its founder’s name, Wilson said. At a previous job as a trader, Ochocki became known by the letters O-C-H, Wilson said, and is still referred to as that because his name is hard to pronounce.

There was “no intention to cause any confusion at all” with Och-Ziff, Wilson said. He apologized to Judge Richard Arnold for initially failing to comply with court orders and said the firm is now cooperating.

Och-Ziff was started in 1994 by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trader Och, 49, and Ziff Brothers Investments LLC with money from the Ziff media empire. OCH Capital has been operating in the U.K. since April last year, according to the Financial Services Authority’s register.

The case is Och-Ziff Management Europe v. OCH Capital LLP, case no. 112/10, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division (London).

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