In a 22-page lawsuit filed Oct. 6 in Manhattan federal court, McCartney’s legal team is charging “trade dress infringement, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices, trade dress dilution, and design patent infringement” stemming from “marketing and sale of a knock-off” of the designer’s Falabella foldover tote bag.
McCartney’s attorney Richard Lehv at Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu declined to comment Friday, as did a spokesman for her London-based company as well as a spokesman for Madden’s Long Island City, N.Y.-based company.
Stella McCartney’s Web site describes her Falabella bag as having “attitude without shouting about it.”
First launched in summer 2009, the Falabella is so popular that it now has its own heading on the designer’s Stella McCartney’s Web site. The company currently offers three versions: A studded, quilted shaggy mini tote at $1,420; an ivory alter fur mini tote at $1,400, and an alter snake backpack at $1,595.
McCartney’s suit alleges that “long after plaintiff’s Falabella collection of bags, with their distinctive trade dress, achieved prominence in the fashion industry,” Steve Madden started “importing and selling a tote bag, that, although virtually identical in appearance to her design, is a poorly made copy.”
“By selling this knockoff,” which is marketed as the Btotally bag, Madden “is likely to confuse consumers into believing that the Steve Madden’s product is Stella McCartney’s product, and to cause economic harm to consumers, given its shoddy quality,” the suit claims. “Further, given the likelihood of confusion, the sale of Madden’s product harms McCartney’s reputation and diverts sales from her.”
McCartney’s legal team also noted that the Falabella is one of her most successful lines of products. The designer’s Falabella is “offered in a variety of shapes and styles, all of which feature a chain attached to the body of each bag with a Whipstitch.” the suit said.
This is the second time in recent months that Steve Madden Ltd. has faced legal troubles for patent infringement. In July, Skechers USA Inc. filed a lawsuit against Steve Madden in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California for allegedly infringing on its patented Skechers Go Walk line.