Ivanka Trump must testify in a trademark infringement dispute involving one of the shoe designs of her namesake brand, a judge ruled on Friday.
The legal team that represents Trump, who now serves as the special advisor to President Donald Trump, previously argued that she should not have to submit to a deposition in a lawsuit filed by Italian footwear brand Aquazzura because “she was not involved in the design, promotion or sale of the shoe,” Darren Saunders, Trump’s lawyer, said earlier this month in a court hearing, Bloomberg reported.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest rejected the request, adding that “a deposition is appropriate,” the Associated Press said of her decision. The judge said “Ms. Trump’s public statements regarding active and comprehensive brand management lead to a reasonable inference that the shoe at issue would not have been released without her approval.” Adding, “While that declaration does assert a lack of personal knowledge of the design at issue, plaintiff asserts otherwise. That is the stuff of which factual disputes in litigation are made.”
Trump must answer questions in a deposition that does not exceed more than two hours, “given Ms. Trump’s competing professional obligations,” the judge ordered. The proceedings are to be held by the end of October and can take place in Washington, D.C., where Trump relocated at the beginning of the year from New York City, where her business has its headquarters.
In court documents filed last week, Trump affirmed that she is no longer her brand’s president, the Associated Press reported. However, Aquazzura’s legal team argued that her testimony was necessary given her past public statements about heading brand Ivanka’s operations and approving designs.
Among the comments Trump has made, Aquazzura cited her statement from this 2012 FN story: “There’s not a shoe I’m not intimately involved in designing.” However, Trump’s lawyer Saunders said in a court hearing that she looks at finished shoe examples for approvals.
“The purpose of the deposition is not for harassment, but because Ms. Trump possesses individual knowledge not only of what did or did not occur with regard to the shoes at issue, but of how she handles the supervision of her licensees generally, and what steps she takes to avoid licensees’ intentional copying,” Aquazzura’s lawyers said.
Earlier this month, Aquazzura lawyer John Margiotta complained to Forrest that his team had been “having trouble scheduling Ivanka Trump’s deposition,” Bloomberg reported. “We were notified that they are not in fact willing to produce Ms. Trump at all,” Margiotta added.
Aquazzura filed a lawsuit in June 2016 against Trump, her company IT Collection LLC and its footwear licensee Marc Fisher Holdings LLC, alleging that Trump’s Hettie shoe is “virtually identical” to its Wild Thing design.
After President Trump won the election, Ivanka formally separated from running her brand and has taken an official role in the White House. The company was placed in a trust run by her husband Jared Kushner’s family, she confirmed on CBS.
Request for comments have been made for Marc Fisher Footwear and Ivanka Trump.