Ivanka must testify in shoe copycat row
Italian firm wins fight for evidence to be heard
Ivanka Trump must give evidence in a dispute with an Italian shoemaker over one of her company's designs, a judge has said.
US district Judge Katherine Forrest rejected a request by the senior White House aide's lawyers that she be blocked from submitting to a deposition in the trademark infringement lawsuit brought by Aquazzura Italia against her and her company IT Collection.
The Florence-based company sued President Donald Trump's daughter last year, saying her Hettie shoe was "virtually identical" to its popular Wild Thing Shoe, including nearly the same colour, shape and tassel on the heel.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
The judge said she must submit to questions posed during a deposition lasting no more than two hours, "given Ms Trump's competing professional obligations", to take place in Washington, if that is her preference.
Judge Forrest said the deposition should occur by the end of October on a mutually acceptable schedule.
In her ruling, 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.
"In such a situation, a deposition is appropriate."
In a declaration filed with the court last week, Ms Trump described herself as the former president of the company, saying she was now an assistant to the Republican president of the US and maintained an office in the White House.
"I had no involvement in the conception, design, production or sale of the Hettie Shoe," she said, adding that those responsibilities belonged to the company's licensee, Marc Fisher, which was also sued.
"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," Ms Trump said.
In requesting her evidence, Aquazzura's lawyers cited public statements by Ms Trump, including one in which she was quoted saying: "There's not a shoe I'm not intimately involved in designing."
"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," the lawyers wrote.
The judge's ruling said: "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."
Aquazzura, in its lawsuit, said its shoe designs had "skyrocketed to fame in the fashion world" since the company was formed in 2011, with its footwear "coveted by fashionistas and celebrities alike".
It said the Wild Thing was one of its best-selling shoes and was not the first to be copied by Ms Trump's company.
According to the lawsuit, her company stopped selling another shoe after Aquazzura complained that one of its products had been copied.