Marc Fisher Footwear Defends Itself in Court

Marc Fisher Footwear was in the hot seat Thursday in the Federal Court in Manhattan, as one of its former directors of men’s product, Paul Vando, was cross-examined by Gucci’s legal counsel, Louis Ederer of law firm Arnold & Porter LLP.

As a defendant in Gucci’s lawsuit against Guess Inc. for alleged trademark infringement, Marc Fisher Footwear, Guess’ exclusive licensee for footwear, had to field questions on how and why it decided to use colors and logo patterns that were similar to Gucci’s on Guess shoe styles including the Melrose and the Turbo.

Accompanying Ederer’s questions were samples of shoes by both Gucci and Guess, that both featured a brown-and-cream canvas upper, a diamond interlocking logo pattern called the “quattro G diamond” and a green-red-green tricolor stripe.

Vando, who was at Marc Fisher Footwear from 2006 to 2010, repeatedly maintained that he could not remember if he bought specific Gucci shoe styles as reference samples.

“I don’t recall. Part of my job is to shop a lot and buy many, many shoes. I purchased many, many shoes over a four-year period of time,” Vando told the court.

When Ederer asked if Vando gave Marc Fisher Footwear’s factory in China a Gucci shoe “and had them knock it off,” Vando responded, “Again, we used reference samples. … I can’t say with 100 percent certainty [that that happened].”

In another instance, Vando also said, “I was just doing what I was told by my boss at the time.”

Gucci is claiming that Guess has been knocking off its trademarks for years. The court case, which began last week, involves allegations by Gucci that Guess and Marc Fisher Footwear devised a “massive scheme” to knock off its product. Gucci is seeking $221 million in damages.

Paul Marciano, CEO of Guess, also took the stand again Thursday. In his testimony, Marciano denied that he was aware of any Guess consumer buying Guess product with the diamond logo design because of its similarity to the Gucci original.

Ederer then submitted evidence of an online user review of a Guess shoe on Macys.com on April 20, 2009, that allegedly said, “They look nice, haven’t worn them yet, similar to Gucci but a fraction of the price.”

Court is adjourned until Monday at 10 a.m. when Vando will resume the stand.

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