This week brought the news that reality television star and budding cosmetics mogul Kylie Jenner is soon to be on the receiving end of a copyright infringement lawsuit for copying the work of Los Angeles-based makeup artist, Vlada Haggerty. The lawsuit, which has yet to be filed, will center on imagery used in connection with Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics collection, according to Haggerty. It will be just the latest in the famous family’s string of legal woes that stem from copying allegations. Here’s a brief history of the intellectual property infringement and related allegations that have been lodged against them …
After the Kardashians launched their Khroma Beauty collection (“Khroma”) in 2012, Chroma Makeup studio (“Chroma”), a Los Angeles-based makeup studio, filed suit against the sisters and their licensing company, Boldface Licensing + Branding (“Boldface”) for trademark infringement.
Chroma co-owner Michael Rey filed suit in the Central District of California's Western Division court in Los Angeles, alleging that his company had been using the Chroma trademark for 12 years at the time of filing and that not only was the sisters’ brand infringing his trademark, it was creating consumer confusion and tarnishing his brand's image.
This case was settled out of court in January 2014.
NOVEMBER 30, 2012: BOLDFACE LICENSING + BRANDING v. BY LEE TILLETT INC (2:12-cv-10269)
After being threatened with legal action by another like-named brand – KROMA Makeup (“KROMA”), a Florida-based cosmetics brand owned by Lee Tillett Inc. (“Lee Tillett”) – Boldface filed suit in the U.S. District Court Central District of California's Western Division in November 2012 to seek a declaratory judgment. In filing such an action, Boldface was essentially asking the court to issue a judgment asserting whether or not Khroma infringed KROMA's trademark.
According to Boldface’s complaint, KROMA “consists solely of a descriptive term and lacks any inherent distinctive meaning to the relevant consuming public and therefore, is conceptually weak.”
In response to Boldface’s lawsuit, Lee Tillett filed her own counterclaims against Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian and Boldface. Tillett filed trademark infringement counterclaims in a Los Angeles, California court, alleging that the Kardashian's collection has caused confusion among consumers and damaged her business.
Tillett asked the court for $10 million in damages in connection with her federally registered trademark for KROMA for cosmetics.
MARCH 2013: U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Judge Audrey B. Collins handed down a preliminary injunction ruling in Tillett's favor. In this case, the preliminary injunction was a court order prohibiting the Kardashians and Boldface from using the “Khroma” name until the lawsuit concluded, at which point the court could order a permanent injunction. Judge Collins held that withholding an injunction “will destroy Tillett’s business, which it has built over a decade, causing losses of hundreds of thousands” and perhaps millions of dollars.
The Kardashians and Boldface appealed this decision, stating: “Boldface stands to lose tens of millions of dollars, and will likely be put of out business” if the injunction was not overturned.
MAY 2013: The Kardashians and Boldface agreed to change the name of Khroma to Kardashian Beauty. This settled the pending lawsuit between the sisters and Lee Tillett. In accordance with the settlement, Boldface was forced to pay $60,500 to Tillett but was reportedly permitted to sell the remaining stock of products that it held at the time of the settlement its current stock of products under the original name before Kardashian Beauty hit shelves in about a month.
The case was settled in December 2014.
SEPTEMBER 2014: KROMA MAKEUP EU, LLC v. BOLDFACE LICENSING + BRANDING, INC. ET AL (6:14-cv-01551)
After the Kardashians settled suit with Lee Tillett over the KROMA trademark, KROMA Makeup EU, the exclusive European licensee of the KROMA collection, filed suit against them in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. KROMA’s EU arm filed a multi-million-dollar trademark infringement suit against the Kardashian sisters, alleging that they began marketing their competing makeup line after Tillett began discussions with Kim Kardashian to represent the KROMA collection.
NOVEMBER 4, 2015: JUST GAMES INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT LLC v. GLU MOBILE INC. ET AL (2:15-cv-08626)
According to this lawsuit, which was filed in California federal court by Kung Fu Factory, Kris Jenner and co. stole the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game from a development company after working on it with them for several months. Kung Fu Factory, which had a hand in developing Mortal Combat and other games, alleged that Jenner ran off with copyrighted material that the company shared with the reality television mom while brainstorming for the project. As a result, the company filed a $10 million+ lawsuit against Jenner and Glu Mobile, another development company.
The case was settled and dismissed in February 2016.
MARCH 10, 2016: KDB PTY LTD v. KYLIE JENNER
Not litigation but a legal proceeding nonetheless, budding entrepreneur Kylie Jenner was named in several trademark proceedings this spring. After filing trademark applications for registration for just her first name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) in April and November 2015, Australian pop-star Kylie Minogue stepped in. Minogue's legal team filed to oppose Jenner’s “Kylie” trademark applications, arguing that Minogue is the real thing, whereas Jenner is merely a "supporting character" in the Keeping up with the Kardashians television show that is arguably much better known for her active media presence and her "photographic exhibitionism and controversial posts."
These trademark matters are still pending before the USPTO's Trademark Trial and Appeals Board.
MARCH 21, 2016: HILLAIR CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LLC ET AL v. KIM KARDASHIAN ET AL (BC614374)
In March 2016, the Kardashians were hit with a $180-million-dollar lawsuit in connection with their ever-troubled Kardashian Beauty collection. According to the lawsuit, which was filed in state court in California by Hillair Capital Management ("Hillair"), Kardashian Beauty's principal investor, the reality television sisters breached their contract with Hillair in connection with their beauty line for “failing to provide marketing and promotional support as they had for nearly two years leading up to the signing of their contract [with Hillair].” As a result, Hillair filed suit against the sisters for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation, amongst other claims.
Per Hillair’s complaint, which was filed against sisters Kourtney, Khloe, and Kim Kardashian and their respective corporations, 2Die4Kourt, Inc.; KhloMoney, Inc.; and KimsAPrincess, Inc., it purchased the Kardashian Beauty assets from Boldface Licensing + Branding, the company that originally owned the right to license the sisters' collection, in 2014. According to an agreement between the Kardashians and Hillair, the sisters were to continue to promote the collection.
This lawsuit is still pending.
JULY 13, 2016: 2DIE4KOURT ET AL v. HILLAIR CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LLC ET AL (8:16-CV-01304) – AND – HAVEN BEAUTY INC. v. KIM KARDASHIAN ET AL (8:16-CV-01307)
Los Angeles-based cosmetics retailer, Haven Beauty (“Haven”), launched a new collection this summer, entitled Kardashian Beauty. The collection makes use of the reality television sisters' names and faces on its website, but according to the Kardashians, they are not associated with the collection. As a result, lawsuits ensued.
The sisters and Haven – the latter of which was intended to be a joint venture between Hillair and the Kardashians – filed rival trademark lawsuits in the Central District Court of California, a federal court in Los Angeles. Haven is seeking upwards of $10 million.
According to the sisters’ own multi-million-dollar lawsuit, Haven launched Kardashian Beauty without their authorization and in an attempt “to mislead the Kardashians' fans by stating that the Kardashians are still involved.”