Not for the first time, New York based company Steve Madden Inc has found itself on the wrong side of a lawsuit filed by Balenciaga, the luxury French fashion label. Balenciaga claims that Steve Madden is producing and selling a copycat version of its famous motorcycle handbag. Balenciaga state that Steve Madden’s product is a “studied copy” of the motorcycle bag, featuring identical or nearly identical shapes and design elements but sold at a much lower price point.
While regular readers will know that the US does not have design protection like we do in the UK, the motorcycle is protected by what is called trade dress – a section of law similar to trademarks, which allows a design to be protected as long as that design serves to indicate the source of the product in question. Balenciaga filed for trade dress protection back in 2007 and it alleges that Madden’s copycats will harm its goodwill, reputation and sales.
The lawsuit, which was filed last week in the Manhattan District Court, seeks to stop the sale of the infringing handbags and to recoup lost profits.
Some of you may recall that back in 2009, Balenciaga filed a lawsuit against Steve Madden accusing it of copying its famous ‘Lego’ shoe. The original Balenciaga pair sold for $4,175 while the alleged knockoffs sold for $99.95, or, approximately 2 percent of the original price. The case settled out of court like we suspect this one will too!