Aquazzura Files Suit Against Steve Madden For Copycat Designs

Steve Madden Sassey Heels
Steve Madden Sassey heel.
Courtesy of Macy's.

It looks like Aquazzura is headed back to court, and this time the Italian luxury shoe brand is suing Steve Madden LLC.

After filing a high profile lawsuit against Ivanka Trump and Marc Fisher Footwear early last week, Aquazzura also quietly took action against New York-based Steve Madden for allegedly copying several of its styles.

According to a lawsuit filed in U.S. Federal District Court in New York, Aquazzura argues Steve Madden’s Sassey heel with fringe and ankle wrap detail is a copy of the popular Aquauzzura style called Wild Thing. The Italian brand also alleges that Madden knocked-off its Belgravia flat and pump, its Sexy Thing bootie and its Christy flat.

For many of the styles, Aquazzura is using “trade dress” to protect its styles, arguing that the shoes have become so widely recognized and associated with its brand that they are protected by law. It’s the same argument the brand used with its filing against Ivanka Trump.

Aquazzura Steve Madden Law Suit Left: Steve Madden Sassey heels. Right: Aquazzura Wild Thing heels. Courtesy of Macy's & Matches Fashion.

However, the Aquazzura Christy flat, which is also part of the lawsuit, is protected by a U.S. design patent. Aquazzura is suing for patent violation arguing the Steve Madden Lecrew flat is a direct copy.

In the filing, Aquazzura argues that Madden’s “conduct is calculated to confuse and mislead consumers, create a false impression as to the source and sponsorship of Defendant’s Infringing Shoes, divert business from [Aquazzura], pass off the infringing shoes as being authorized and endorsed by [Aquazzura] and otherwise falsely misrepresent the nature and quality of Defendant’s products and misappropriate the goodwill associated with Plaintiff and its Aquazzura Trade Dresses.”

Aquazzura Steve Madden Law Suit Left: Steve Madden Lecrew flat. Right: Aquazzura Christy flat. Courtesy of Macy's & Net-a-porter.com

The brand is looking for a court order blocking Madden’s sale and manufacture of the styles, and to destroy any unsold goods, as well as account for profits.

Edgardo Osorio, Aquazzura’s creative head and founder, has gone on record arguing for better intellectual property protections in the industry. In an interview with FN this spring, Osorio explained why he was especially passionate about design and protecting his styles.

“I have nothing against Ivanka Trump. It’s not only her, and I’m glad to do other posts,” Osorio said. “I plan to do the same with Steve Madden and other people who have ripped us off. Even some of my direct competitors are copying me. … Sometimes I look at the buys in department stores, and I see copies of my shoes. We need to be harder with our retailers. They need to protect us. You can’t cannibalize one business with another.”

Footwear News has reached out to Aquazzura and Steve Madden for comment.