Courtroom Drama as Marc Fisher Takes Stand

During his second day of testimony in court on Wednesday, Marc Fisher, the founder and CEO of Marc Fisher Footwear, Guess’ exclusive shoe licensee, was defiant against allegations that he made “concerted efforts to Gucci-ize the Guess product line.”

In the ongoing trial of Gucci America Inc. vs. Guess Inc. et al, the executive was at times confused and exasperated about the charges against his company.

At one point, Fisher stood up to ask the court, “Your honor, do these shoes look alike? … There is no resemblance other than they are both open-toe.”

In another moment, Fisher retorted, “Where are the stripes [in the evidence samples]? It’s called webbing, and there are many companies that use webbing with multicolored stripes, including Coach … and Louis Vuitton.”

There were several other tense moments in Wednesday’s hearing, and even presiding Judge Shira Scheindlin’s patience was tested at times. When Fisher denied that the Guess Melrose sneaker was similar to a Gucci GG diamond logo-ed shoe, Judge Scheindlin said, “I get it. They’re totally different. Wait, [lest] the record be confused, [I] said [that] sarcastically.”

Fisher, dressed in a charcoal gray suit and highly polished brown dress shoes, spent several hours trying to convey that he was mainly responsible for the design of women’s shoes, not the men’s shoes under scrutiny. Several men’s styles, such as the Melrose, allegedly infringed on Gucci’s registered trademark of the green-red-green stripe.

“There are some men’s shoes in retrospect that look too similar to Gucci shoes,” Fisher conceded. “Had I known the inspiration was so similar, I would’ve said something, but I didn’t know.”

Fisher also testified that as Guess’ licensee, “we did what Guess told us to do” with respect to the use of an underlined “Guess” script logo that is also one of the trademarks in contention in the case.

When asked by Gucci’s lawyer, Louis Ederer of Arnold & Porter, if he ever “tried to copy shoes from other brands stitch by stitch,” Fisher was visibly riled.

“Very often, someone will show me a shoe and I’ll say — and this happens all the time, not occasionally — we’ve made that shoe, it sold great, let’s do it again,” Fisher said. “So am I copying my own shoe stitch for stitch?  The question is confusing.”

Fisher also testified that the company has received cease-and-desist letters in the past from design houses including Yves Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo, Coach, Dior and even athletic giant Adidas. Some of these disputes were settled privately, and in all cases, the production of the allegedly infringing shoes was stopped, Fisher said.

Ederer’s cross-examination culminated in a climactic moment when he asked Fisher, “You think this whole case is ridiculous, don’t you?”
Fisher responded, “I don’t think anything is ridiculous that takes up this much of my time. I would’ve appreciated when all this started a letter from Gucci [explaining there might be a trademark infringement on some styles]. Perhaps I don’t feel Gucci conducted themselves the way [other brands have done].”

Fisher, whose father, Jerome Fisher, founded Nine West, added, “We make hundreds of styles and thousands of SKUs, and 98 percent of them have nothing to do with [what we’re discussing in this case]. I certainly wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize my reputation; my family’s reputation. … We’ve been selling shoes in this country maybe longer than Gucci has been selling shoes in this country.”

The hearing is set to continue on Thursday.

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