Ivanka Trump is being accused of ripping off designer Derek Lam. The high-end label says that the 30-year-old heiress ‘blatantly and intentionally copied’ its Ayami wedge, $780. It argues that by selling her similar-looking Cadie design at just $150 will affect its sales. Yes, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery but not if it cuts into sales. However, it can be argued that in the business world, the practice is par for the course, barring instances of patent or trademark infringement.
Once a good company concept enters the public domain, copycats are destined follow suit. A research paper published last fall in the Academy of Management Journal argues that being the first to market rarely pays off. Pioneering firms commonly die young because consumers aren’t ready to embrace their business models, it says.
Derek Lam yesterday sent both Ivanka Trump Footwear and its licensee, Marc Fisher Footwear, a cease and desist letter, giving them seven days to remove the shoe from sale. Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, chief executive officer of Derek Lam, told WWD today: ‘We have seen very similar copies before but we have never seen a shoe that perfectly copied. “It’s such an investment to make a shoe… we had to protest this.” This may actually be copyright violation which is taken extremely seriously in the fashion industry. Tory Burch LLC was awarded $164 million by the New York Federal Court in damages for the company’s suit against counterfeiters this past summer.
According to Mom Inventors Inventors, “The fact is, if your ideas are good ones, copycat competition will happen to you, too. The key is staying focused, no matter who the competitor is. If you’re dwelling on the negative (even if you’ve been legitimately wronged), you can’t be creative. It will sap your energy, squash your ideas and change the focus from your business to theirs.”