Balenciaga is suing Steven Madden with a trademark lawsuit. The Paris based design house, helmed by Alexander Wang, filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Manhattan accusing accessories designer Steven Madden of copying its famous motorcycle bag. Balenciaga said that Steven Madden has made a “studied copy” of the bag. Balenciaga argues Steven Madden’s Btalia bag which is being sold for $88, resembles the Motorcycle bag.
The French design house which is owned by parent company Kering has claimed that Steven Madden is manufacturing a cheaper version of their famous Motorcycle bag. This according to Balenciaga has been specifically done to confuse consumers. The company claims that Steven Madden has infringed a trade dress regulation that the Parisian house applied for in 2007. A trade dress regulation is a type of trademark protection. This is a visual kind of trademark where the appearance of the product is looked at. Trade dress infringement issues arise when a party feels that a copy could result in consumer confusion. The trade dress which was registered by Balenciaga covers the front design of Motorcycle bag and its lookalikes such as Twiggy, Velo, Papier and City (see picture above).
The registration protects: “The flat pouch with a zippered rectangular closure, a zipper pull consisting of a strip centrally-knotted and hanging in two equal lengths, and a semi-elliptical patch outfitted with two raised studs in each corner; and two identical patches in an elongated pentagonal shape, featuring an elongated hexagonal patch outfitted with a buckle and two raised studs”.
The Motorcycle bag has been a celebrity favourite seen on the likes of Kim Kardashian, Mary-Kate Olsen and Paris Hilton. It became so popular that there were many counterfeits on the market. As a result of this, Balenciaga decided to register a US trade dress to protect the design. The bag was created by Nicholas Ghesquiere who was at Balenciaga from 1997 and in 2012 Alexander Wang became his successor.
Balenciaga has asked the court for an injunction to prevent Steven Madden producing the “studied copy” of its Motorcycle bag. The French label is also seeking monetary damages and lost profits. Balenciaga’s complaint states: “Defendant’s wholesale copying of Balenciaga’s designs is likely to deceive consumers into believing that the infringing [handbag] is associated with or authorized by Balenciaga when it is, in fact, not.” In addition, Balenciaga claims not only is there customer confusion but it is also hurting the company’s goodwill, reputation and sales.
This is not the first time Balenciaga has filed a lawsuit against the American designer, Steve Madden. If you remember, in 2007 the company filed a complaint against Steven Madden for “intentionally copying” its LEGO high heel from its Autumn/Winter 2007 Collection.
Do you think Steve Madden’s Btalia copied Balenciaga’s Motorcycle bag? Or do you think they are just similar?