As I was doing my Christmas shopping last month, browsing different shopping sites and fashion stories recommending the perfect Christmas gift, I came across this bucket bag.
Steve Madden BGEMMA bucket bag via stevemadden.com
Now, if you follow my Currently Coveting posts, you’ll know that I have been insanely coveting the very trendy Mansur Gavriel bucket bag. And, at first I thought that this bucket bag was the bag I’ve been dreaming about for months. But, on further inspection I found out that it is in fact a Steve Madden BGEMMA bucket bag.
Mansur Gavriel Bucket Bag via mansurgavriel.com
It seems that Steve Madden, like so many fast fashion clothing brands, has been “inspired” by the latest trends to create its own version of the luxury piece.
This could amount to trademark/trade dress infringement, similar to the Christian Louboutin lawsuit from 2 years ago. In that case, Louboutin was granted a victory when the court determined that Louboutin was entitled to a trademark over the use of a red sole on a shoe when the entire shoe is not red.
Typically, the test to determine infringement would be the likelihood of confusion test. Under this test Mansur Gavriel would have to first prove that the elements of the bag that are being infringed are decorative and not functional and then show that a consumer is confused about the origin of the bag. To show this, Mansur Gavriel would have to prove distinctiveness, meaning that the bag and it’s elements are so well-known that any consumer would immediately attribute the elements to their brand.
Mansur Gavriel vs. Steve Madden
In my opinion, the bag is infringing on Mansur Gavriel’s trade dress rights. Firstly, the two bags are incredibly similar: both are black bucket bags with red leather interior lining. However, the only element that could arguably be protected is the black leather/red leather interior, as this is a unique design element that Mansur Gavriel employs in its designs.
Steve Madden may argue that there are several elements that make it distinct from the Mansur Gavriel piece: the drawstring contains tassels while Mansur Gavriel’s doesn’t, and the drawstring and strap have red elements which the Mansur Gavriel’s doesnt.
Now to apply the likelihood of confusion test: the element of the black/red combo is most probably decorative rather than functional as there is no real function to it. Determining whether the consumer would be confused about the origin of the bag is a bit harder to assess. For those of us in the fashion industry, when we see the Steve Madden bag, we most probably think of Mansur Gavriel. But, Mansur Gavriel isn’t as well known as Christian Louboutin and while many, if not all, fashion insiders can immediately spot a Mansur Gavriel bag, the average consumer may not.
If the Steve Madden version comes to the attention of Mansur Gavriel, we may find out what the answer is. But, for now, if you wish to have an of-the-moment bucket bag, that looks like the bag that started the trend, you can have one at a fraction of the cost.
Personally, I’m saving my pennies for the original.