The worst possible thing that could happen to someone is having an idea, creating it, selling the product; then having a copy made by another individual and sold for profit. Popular, name brand designers have had to deal with the threat of knock-offs…well, forever.
Talented (and slightly off) designer Alexander McQueen is suing retailer Steve Madden for Copy & Design Infringement.
In January 2009 McQueen released the “Faithful” leather bootie- inspired by a motorcycle jacket, made of black leather with an open toe and leather jacket-inspired design elements. Shortly after, Madden released a similar shoe, described as a “studied imitation”, which looks exactly like the “Faithful” bootie. McQueen quickly filed suit for Design Infringement October 1, 2009 after a “cease and desist” letter that was sent to Madden from McQueen’s lawyers went unanswered in September.
McQueen “Faithful” bootie on the left, Madden on the right.
The shoe is covered under the Copyright Act: it is a published “creative work” and a tangible form of expression. Madden copied the entire shoe from top to bottom; the only thing not copied was the Alexander McQueen logo on the zipper. According to court documents, the McQueen original gained recognition after being spotted on the feet of celeb women such as Rihanna, an Olson twin, and others.
It is Team McQueen’s belief that Madden had the intent to sell and capitalize off the popularity of the shoe due to commercial exposure. McQueen is seeking injunction, barring Madden from selling the items. (It seems they need to go after Aldo as well, I seen a look-a-like pair there a few weeks ago.) In the suit documents, McQueen is suing for infringement on trade of the dress, profits of wrongful acts plus interest, delivery of infringing goods for destruction, legal fees, and relief.
Sometimes I wonder if designers use it as a compliment; Karl Lagerfeld is constantly being knocked-off. He says he uses it as a form of flattery and uses that push to produce the next thing to be on top of the totem pole. In the case of knock-offs, high-end designers would be suing the pants off everyone. However, Madden does do a knock-off every-now-and-then with a slight twist; but these boots are an exact replica. If one was not use to looking at the quality of leather, he or she would never know the difference.
Sheesh! You may think you’re getting a steal with the knock-off, but it seems Madden is going to be the one to pay the ultimate price. ~ C.M.