Following a ruling this summer that mandated that First Daughter Ivanka Trump must testify under oath – by way of a deposition – and that set a March 2018 date on the court’s calendar for the start of the lawsuit that Aquazzura filed against her eponymous label, the parties have settled the case.
More often than not, lawsuits – intellectual property-wise or not – tend to settle long before the start of the actual trial phase.
The case - which TFL broke just over a year ago - stemmed most significantly from Trump’s $150 lookalike red fringed sandal, which is still being sold online, albeit not on Trump’s site. It bears a striking resemblance to Aquazzura’s $700+ Wild Thing sandal, which has proven a hit with street style stars and Hollywood starlets, alike.
We predicted that a settlement was not only in the pipeline, but would likely occur before Ms. Trump was scheduled to be deposed. Judge Katherine Forest held that the deposition must take place before the end of October.
Oftentimes, companies will settle on the eve of a deposition in order to enable high ranking individuals to avoid testifying – for any number of reasons, one of them being the amount of time required to adequately prep the individual to be deposed. (Note: The preparation can often be more lengthy and grueling than the deposition, itself).
Another reason: To shield the individual at issue from what can often prove a notoriously unpleasant experience.
This is exactly what went down, so to speak, in the lawsuit filed against Kanye West in May 2016 in connection with his song “New Slaves.” According to that suit, which was filed by Hungarian composer Gabor Presser, West was on the hook for copyright infringement for too heavily sampling Presser’s 1969 composition “Gyongyhaju Lany.”
Just ahead of West having to testify under oath in the case, the rapper’s counsel agreed to settle, after unsuccessfully arguing that the rapper “had no personal involvement in any of those negotiations” involving the license with Presser and therefore, should not have to testify.
Trump’s legal team argued in June that the First Daughter should be excused from testifying because of her “extraordinary circumstances” as a “high-ranking government employee.” Judge Forest - while assuring Trump’s counsel that she understood that Trump does, in fact, “have second job right now" - still demanded that Trump testify. The judge did, however, agree that the deposition be limited to no longer than two hours because of Trump’s “competing professional obligations.”
The terms of the parties’ settlement agreement are confidential but likely include monetary compensation paid from Trump to Aquazzura in connection with the sale of the allegedly infringing footwear.