Steve Madden is being accused of ripping off a shoe design… again

The shoe startup Rothy’s accused competitor Steve Madden of copying its shoes -- and it’s not the first time.

October 21, 2019

Tom Herde/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The venture-backed shoe startup Rothy’s is the most recent shoemaker to tangle with Steve Madden. 

Rothy’s, recently valued at $700m and known for its comfy flats made from recycled materials, says Steve Madden’s Rosy Flats infringe on its design patents and take too much inspiration from its “The Point” collection (and Steve’s sell for less than half the price).

But the Madden men beg to differ 

After Rothy’s sent their $3B competitor a cease and desist letter, the shoe dogs followed up with a preemptive lawsuit, which claims its flats don’t infringe and that some Rothy patents shouldn’t have been granted in the first place.

This week, Rothy’s kicked back with counterclaims and asserted that “Madden has chosen to slavishly copy [its] product design” instead of actually doing its own product development. 

Yikes, this thing is getting heated.

This isn’t Steve Madden’s first time at the… um… rip-off rodeo

Lots of brands have accused Steve Madden of design theft through the years — including Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, and Allbirds, to name a few — with varied success.

But let’s not single out Steve: Knocking off shoes, clothes, and bags happens a lot, likely because it’s hard to prove design patent infringement. 

You have to prove an “ordinary observer” wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between design 1 and design 2 when they’re side by side, which is a high bar.

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