A Manhattan judge has ordered Ivanka Trump to give a deposition in a lawsuit by an Italian designer accusing her of trademark infringement and ripping off a shoe design. The ruling was in response to her lawyers’ arguments that Trump should be allowed to skip the deposition in part because of her “extraordinary circumstances” as a “high-ranking government employee.”
In a statement filed with the court June 16, Trump said she had “no involvement in the conception, design, production or sale of the Hettie shoe,” the sandal at the center of the suit by Florence shoemaker Aquazzura. She said her only involvement was a “final sign-off of each season’s line after it was first reviewed and approved by the company’s design team.”
But the judge wasn’t buying it.
“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,” U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest wrote in her decision Friday. “A deposition is appropriate.”
Forrest ignored Trump’s claim that she was too busy for the deposition, but did say that questioning should be limited to two hours because of Trump’s “competing professional obligations.”
Aquazzura Italia SRL filed the suit last June against Trump’s company IT Collection LLC. The action claims Trump’s Hettie sandal is “virtually identical” to Aquazzzura’s Wild Thing shoe.
In demanding that Trump be deposed, Aquazzura’s attorneys quoted Trump as recently saying, “There’s not a shoe I’m not intimately involved with designing.” IT Collection shoemaker Marc Fisher Holdings is also named in the suit.
Other shoes sold by Trump’s IT Collection and named in the suit also appear strikingly similar to those created by Aquazzura. The Italian company claims Trump can sell them at a fraction of the cost because she has dodged the costs of their original designs. The Hettie shoe sells for $130 while the Wild Thing has a pricetag of $785.
The lawsuit accuses Trump and Fisher of “seeking the same success Aquazzura experienced, but without having to put in the hard creative work.”
Trump stopped selling another shoe model similar to an Aquazzura design after the Italian company complained, according to the lawsuit.
Aquazzura is seeking unspecified damages.