NEW YORK — Marc Fisher fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat Tuesday afternoon.
This story first appeared in the April 11, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The founder and chief executive officer of Marc Fisher Footwear had just endured a 90-minute grilling by Gucci attorney Louis Ederer over the role his firm played in the alleged infringement of Gucci trademarks.
The court case, which began two weeks ago, involves allegations by Gucci that Guess Inc. and its exclusive licensee for footwear, Marc Fisher Footwear, devised a “massive scheme” to knock off Gucci product. Gucci is seeking $221 million in damages and a permanent injunction that would keep Guess and Marc Fisher from making and selling goods that include its diamond-shaped logoed pattern, square “G” design and tri-striped motif.
Fisher’s testimony, which will resume this morning, focused on the evolution of shading in Guess’ “Quattro G” logo. Gucci claims the pattern is a knockoff of its own “GG” diamond logo, which also incorporates shading. Ederer traced what he deemed as the first appearance of shading in Guess’ logoed pattern in its shoes, which were made by Marc Fisher in 2006.
“I never noticed the shading,” Fisher said repeatedly when asked about its origin.
Ederer referenced e-mails indicating that product-development executives from Marc Fisher had been sending Gucci fabric samples to Guess’ fabric supplier so that it could replicate the coloring for its logo patterns for shoes.
“I know they were sending swatches from many different brands to get the right jacquard look,” Fisher explained. “I think they were just working on the colors.”
Ederer pressed on, showing Fisher a logoed Guess men’s sneaker called the Melrose, which looked so similar to a Gucci sneaker that Guess pulled it immediately from the market. Guess ceo Paul Marciano, who testified last week, admitted in court that he was “embarrassed” by the shoe’s similarities.
Fisher said he didn’t believe the product executive in question, design director Kathy Ringwood, had “any intention” in adding shading to the pattern.
“It just magically appeared?” Ederer smirked, as Fisher shook his head. “You never asked her in three years of this litigation?”
“No,” Fisher replied.
Ederer referenced other e-mails between Guess employees, including its licensing department and buyers, and Marc Fisher sales and product-development executives, in which both sides referred to Gucci product for inspiration for Guess merchandise.
The Gucci lawyer returned to the question of the shaded pattern, this time making the case that based on the popularity of the Melrose shoe, Guess incorporated the shaded pattern into all of its men’s accessories.
“I don’t understand why we’re spending 45 minutes discussing shading,” an irritated Fisher said.
The ceo explained that his company used samples from different brands in order to develop the Quattro G pattern for shoes.
“I think I said several times that we bought [fabrics from] Coach, Gucci, Dior and many different brands,” Fisher offered before presiding Judge Shira Scheindlin called it a day.
The trial is set to end this week.