Edgardo Osorio’s prized sandals sit on a glass shelf inside his Madison Avenue boutique under zebra-striped arches and golden chandeliers. The shoes have skinny heels, frills, and a tassel dangling from a dainty ankle strap that weaves up the leg. These days, they’re available in all kinds of colourings and materials, but their signature suede style comes in a bold lipstick red.
Osorio, the co-founder and creative administrator of fashion label Aquazzura, calls the sandal one of his most iconic creations. Coveted by celebrities and style bloggers alike, these $785 suede numbers became a true “It” shoe since gaining traction in 2015. They helped catapult the designer and his label to international prominence. So where reference is discovered that the clothing brand run by the daughter of now-President Donald Trump was making a similar item for only $65, he called in the lawyers.
Fed up with alleged duplicate shoe intends, Aquazzura fired off multiple suits over his Wild Thing sandal. Arguably similar styles made storage shelves under labels including Mollini, Missguided, and Jessica Buurman. Aquazzura didn’t challenge the small brands, but instead ran after what he claimed to be “the worlds largest” copycats: Steve Madden, Marc Fisher, and Ivanka Trump.
” One of the most disturbing things in the fashion industry is when someone blatantly steals your copyright intends and doesn’t care ,” his label posted on its Instagram report in March 2016.” You should know better. Dishonor on you @ivankatrump! Imitation is NOT the most sincere shape of adulation .” Aquazzura mailed a cease-and-desist letter to Trump about the shoe, asking her company to stop selling its sandal.
” Based on Aquazzura’s prior copes with your client’s corporation, and on the obvious and purposeful copying of our client’s shoe, we anticipate that you will challenge Aquazzura’s rights in its designing, maintaining that the designs deficiency secondary meaning, and that your client is hence free to knock them off with impunity ,” the letter said, quoting some of the materials of violation. To avoid national courts combat, Aquazzura demanded Trump’s company remove all pictures of the sandal in question from its website and social media, stop advertising the shoe, destroy all existing pairs, disclose its producer, hand over earnings from sales of the offending shoe, and” agree in writing under curse not to offer for sale any knock-off” again. Aquazzura committed Trump a few weeks to comply, or else face legal action.
Trump did not comply, so 2 months later, Aquazzura sued her along with Marc Fisher. In a complaint filed in June 2016 in Manhattan federal tribunal, the company accused Trump of violation, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices.” Trying the same success Aquazzurra experienced but without having to put in the hard creative work, defendants resorted to knocking off plaintiff’s popular designs ,” the complaint stated. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. Darren Saunders, lawyer for the defendants, said Wednesday that the two sides are in settlement talks. Lawyers for Aquazzura declined to comment.
Intellectual property spats are common in the fashion industry, but most feuds are resolved before parties get near a courtroom. Such suits are immensely expensive, complex and can drag on for years. When a mega-company runs after a mom-and-pop, matters are often settled with a nasty letter. But when two equally matched corporations with deep pockets and a history of bad blood find themselves on opposite sides, the attorneys costs can add up, and a trial simply might happen.
” I’ve seen people go all the way when they can’t even render it–to teach someone a lesson ,” said trademark lawyer Sonia Lakhany.