Ivanka Trump is facing a difficult lawsuit over alleged theft of the designs of an Italian shoemaker, Aquazurra Italia, as part of their “Wild Things” line. The company filed a trademark infringement claim against her and her company in June 2016 and a court recently rejected motions filed on Trump’s behalf. Those motions included a claim that Ivanka Trump’s duties as a high-ranking government official made her participation in the litigation too difficult. The claim was rejected. Part of the court’s rationale for rejected her arguments are distinctly reminiscent of the litigation over her father’s immigration order.
The lawsuit claims that Trump’s “Hettie” shoe was a clear ripoff of their “Wild Thing” model. They do look remarkably similar.
The crux of the defense is that there is nothing particularly unique about the design and that without such “distinctiveness” their cannot be a viable claim.
It is the motion seeking to quash a deposition demand that was most interesting. The attorneys not only claimed that Trump lacked “any unique information” to justify a deposition (a weak claim) but also that her “special circumstances” as a presidential advisor should be considered.
She represents to the court that “I had no involvement in the conception, design, production or sale of the ‘Hettie Shoe.'” She instead implicated the company’s licensee, Marc Fisher (also a party to the action).
On the presidential duties argument, her counsel argue that appearing for a deposition “would be an unnecessary distraction and would interfere with her ability to perform her duties at the White House.”
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest however turned down the motion — rejecting the notion that Trump was either too ill-informed or too busy to appear.
There was one particularly ironic aspect to the decision. Like her father, Ivanka’s public statements were cited as evidence against her. Forrest wrote that “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.” In other words, Ivanka sells her products by projecting the image that these are her designs and decisions that go into the clothing lines. The filing contradicts that image and the court (like the Ninth and Fourth Circuits in the immigration litigation) took the public statements as material to the legal analysis.
She will therefore have to appear for a relatively short deposition (less than two hours) in Washington by October of this year.