In June, Italian shoe company Aquazzura filed suit against Trump and her partner Marc Fisher for copying its fringed Wild Thing sandal. The brand slammed Trump at the time for aiming to confuse shoppers with its knockoff style.
In a response filed Friday with U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, Trump’s legal team says that Ivanka Trump’s style in question, called Hettie, doesn’t violate trade dress laws, create unfair competition or unfair trade practices.
Trump and Fisher also filed a counterclaim asking the courts to rule that the shoes in question aren’t subject to trademark protection. According to Trump’s team, the Wild Thing design “lacks secondary meaning and does not function as an indicator of source” and therefore isn’t subject to trade dress rules and “is in the public domain.” Fisher filed a separate suit in June, before the Aquazzura suit was filed, asking the courts to declare the styles “trends” and not protected by trademarks.
In order to fall under trade dress protection, the Aquazzura Wild Thing shoe’s key elements have to be decorative as opposed to functional, and must have acquired such distinctiveness in the market that every shopper recognizes the shoe’s fringe and strappy laceup as signatures of the brand.
The dispute with Trump was widely publicized in June, and Trump’s team responded saying it saw the style as an overall trend in the market, one that many other designers and mid-market labels had embraced.
Marc Fisher CFO Matthew Burris said at the time, “This is a baseless lawsuit aimed at generating publicity. The shoe in question is representative of a trending fashion style, is not subject to intellectual property law protection, and there are similar styles made by several major brands. The lawsuit is without merit, and we will vigorously defend ourselves against the claim.”
Aquazzura designer Edgardo Osorio has made defending design and intellectual property top priorities for his brand. He told Footwear News in an interview earlier this year after posting to Instagram calling out Trump’s Hettie style, “I have nothing against Ivanka Trump. It’s not only her, and I’m glad to do other posts. 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.”
Aquazzura also filed suit against Steve Madden in June.