Ivanka Trump Ordered to Testify in Trademark Dispute Over ‘Wild Thing’ Sandals

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By Emily Zanotti | 7:50 pm, June 25, 2017

At least one member of the Trump family will likely be testifying under oath this summer, but it won’t be the President. Ivanka Trump has been ordered to give a deposition in an ongoing trademark battle involving her namesake clothing and accessories company.

Luxury Italian shoemaker Aquazzura says Ivanka’s brand ripped off their design when creating the Ivanka Trump “Hettie” shoe—a red sandal that looks a little like parts of Elmo were used to make the straps. The Aquazzura “Wild Thing” sandal looks remarkably similar, but Wild Thing costs $700 whereas Ivanka’s version costs $145.

Aquazzura claims that Trump violated their “trade dress:” a trademark-like concept that focuses on identifiable characteristics associated with a particular brand. In this case, Aquazzura says the Wild Thing shoe is so identifiable as an Aquazzura product that consumers are likely to confuse the two sandals, and that has a negative impact on Aquazzura’s brand.

Aquazzura has repeatedly requested that Ivanka testify in the trade dress case, even though Ivanka claims wasn’t involved in the design or manufacturing process.

Ivanka’s lawyers had asked the court to exempt the First Daughter from facing a deposition. “I had no involvement in the conception, design, production or sale of the ‘Hettie Shoe,’” Ivanka’s affidavit read. “My involvement was strictly limited to the final sign-off of each season’s line after it was first reviewed and approved by the company’s design team.”

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, however, rejected that request, and it looks as though Ivanka will have to testify under oath about her shoe-line management later this summer.

According to Forrest, there’s “a reasonable inference that the shoe at issue would not have been released without [Ivanka’s] approval.”

Forrest went on to say that Ivanka has made public statements to the effect that she was intimately involved in her company’s design decisions. She pointed specifically to an interview Ivanka gave to Footwear News, where Ivanka said, “there’s not a shoe I’m not intimately involved in designing.”

Trump’s lawyers also contend that Aquazzura’s shoe shouldn’t be protected under trademark or trade dress because it lacks “distinctiveness,” and that “Wild Thing” isn’t readily identifiable with the brand. Previously, Trump’s team also claimed Aquazzura was suing Trump for publicity.

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