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In March 2018, Jasmin Larian the founder of Cult Gaia had filed a trade dress infringement lawsuit against Steve Madden for manufacturing and selling lookalike bags of their client Cult Gaia. In the suit, both the company and its founder were accused of trade dress infringement. The defendant asserted that Mr. Steve Madden was directly involved with infringement of Cult Gaia's Ark bag trade dress. They also accused him of engaging in unfair competition and deceptive business practices as well.
Jasmin Larian LLC’s claimed that Steve Madden himself is responsible for the trade dress infringement. He is the Creative and Design Chief of the company, responsible for the company’s product designs, including the design in question. The infringement of Cult Gaia's designs cannot be conducted without his approval as well. He willfully, intentionally, and in bad faith infringed the design to benefit from Cult Gaia’s Ark bag. It is important to note that neither of these companies originally invented the 80-year old Japanese picnic bag. In spite of that, Cult Gaia accused Steve Madden infringed the trade dress.
On 23rd January 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed all of Cult Gaia’s allegations against Steve Madden in the preliminary hearing. They found that the evidence submitted before the Court was not enough. They found that the Steve Madden brand is not personally liable for infringement simply because he is the Chief Director. The claims of trade dress infringement and unfair competition as well as the deceptive business practices claim were dismissed.