The Kardashian/Jenners - America's most famous reality television family - have been hit with their fair share of copycat claims. Here is a very brief history of the intellectual property infringement and related allegations that have been lodged against them - from the drama surrounding their failed Kardashian Kroma beauty line to claims from indie designers that the sisters stole their original designs ...
1. AUGUST 2011: Kardashian Kollection Accused of Design Piracy
The Kardashian Collection - a line of women’s clothing, accessories and intimates - made its debut at Sears, and was not completely well-received. One critic: Designer Monica Botkier, who, just days later, took to her blog, in a post titled ‘K is for Knock-off,' to write, “We just discovered how our Botkier ‘Clyde’ was simply copied by Kardashian Kollection for Sears. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery but we don’t think so.”
New York-based Botcher’s attorneys filed a cease-and-desist letter to get the Kardashian's copycat bag pulled from Sears' shelves.
2. OCTOBER 2011: Kim Kardashian Accused of Copying Alexis Bittar Jewelry
Jewelry designer Alexis Bitter spoke out in 2011, alleging that Kim Kardashian was knocking off his designs for her jewelry line. "In the reality TV world, there are so many people coming out with lines to capitalize on their TV shows. They are not designers and they are just stealing," says Bittar.
He further noted: "I passed the Dash pop-up store on Broadway, and I saw that Kim's pieces were very similar to mine, and she definitely has been taking note. The tricky thing is that we have sent pieces to Kim in the past to wear, so now I have told my staff we cannot send anything to her."
3. NOVEMBER 2012: Chroma Makeup Studio LLC v. Boldface Group (Lawsuit)
After the Kardashians launched their Khroma Beauty collection in 2012, Chroma Makeup studio, a Los Angeles-based makeup studio, filed suit against the sisters and their licensing company, Boldface Licensing + Branding 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.
4. SEPTEMBER 2014: Kroma Makeup EU LLC v. Boldface Licensing + Branding (Lawsuit)
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. The complaint also notes that although an undisclosed settlement was reached in 2014 between the American arm of Tillett's complaint and the Kardashians, Tillett refused to split the settlement money with KROMA EU.
As of August 24, 2017, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida dismissed the case.
5. OCTOBER 2014: The Kardashian Kollection Looks Familiar
Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian released the fifth offering of their Kardashian Kollection with United Kingdom-based retailer Lipsy in 2014, and we could not help but notice some rather obviously similarities between their garments and ones already being sold by other designers.
6. OCTOBER 2015: Jenners, Pac Sun Named in Trademark Infringement Lawsuit (Lawsuit)
The two youngest members of the reality television family are embroiled in a trademark battle. Kendall and Kylie Jenner, who launched a clothing collaboration with Pacific Sunwear in 2013, have been named in a trademark infringement lawsuit in connection with one of their designs. The garment at issue: a t-shirt bearing the slogan: “RUN AWAY, FALL IN LOVE, NEVER RETURN.”
The Jenners and Pac Sun settled the suit in January 2016.
7. NOVEMBER 2015: Just Games Interactive Entertainment v. Glu Mobile (Lawsuit)
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 in February 2016.
8. MARCH 2016: KDB Pty Ltd v. Kylie Jenner
Not quite 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.
9. NOVEMBER 2016: Kylie Jenner Accused of Copying Cosmetics Imagery
Kylie Jenner came under fire past winter for her wildly popular makeup line. The reality television star was accused of repeatedly misappropriating the imagery of Vlada Haggerty, a Los Angeles-based makeup artist, in connection with her Kylie Cosmetics collection.
10. APRIL 2017: Xposure Photos (UK) LTD., v. Khloe Kardashian (Lawsuit)
Khloe Kardashian has been slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit after posting a photo of herself on her Instagram account this fall. According to a suit filed by Xposure Photos in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, a federal court in Los Angeles, the reality television star has run afoul of federal copyright law by posting a photo of herself “going for a meal at David Grutman’s Miami restaurant, Komodo” without licensing the photo from Xposure, the copyright holder.
According to a March 2018 mediation report, the case was "completely settled."
In what is proving to be an increasingly common occurrence, the Kardashian/Jenners have again been called out for copying. New York-based brand PluggedNYC, which is known for its colorful camouflage pieces, took to Instagram to call out Kylie Jenner's new “Camo Collection," alleging that Jenner "cut and pasted" their existing camo designs for own line.
Meanwhile, Dbleudazzled designer Destiney Bleu called out Khloe Kardashian for copying, alleging that Kardashian’s team allegedly ordered an array of garments from indie label, dbleudazzled, before the reality star included lookalike designs in her latest Good American collection.
12. JUNE 2017: Jenners Sued Over "Vintage" T-Shirts (Lawsuits)
This week Kendall and Kylie Jenner unveiled a line of $125 “vintage t-shirts” featuring their faces stamped atop old shirt designs from classic rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, and The Doors, as well as rap legends Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Just hours later, following much public outcry and a pair of cease and desist letters (from the manager of The Doors and the mother of the late Notorious B.I.G.), the t-shirts have been pulled from the sisters’ online store.
(a) Michael Miller, who is the copyright holder of two photos depicting Tupac Shakur, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Kendall and Kylie Jenner in connection with the uber-controversial vintage tees, alleging that the famed reality television sisters "have misappropriated and wrongfully exploited" two copyright-protected photos without his authorization, thereby giving rise to copyright infringement claims.
(b) In a separate suit, Al Pereira - who is the copyright holder of the photo depicting Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G. and Redman that appears on one style of Kendall + Kylie's controversial vintage-inspired tees - alleges that the famed reality television sisters "copied [his] photo and placed it on a t-shirt to sell to the public," thereby giving rise to copyright infringement claims.
13. JULY 2017: Sara Pope v. Kylie Jenner (Lawsuit)
According to the BBC, UK-based artist Sara Pope is taking copyright action against Kylie Jenner over the bright neon lips seen in a trailer for the star's new reality series, which premiered in May 2017. An image very similar to Sara's Temptation Neon is seen in the promotion for “Life Of Kylie.”
14. JULY 2017: Kirsten Kjaer Weis v. Kim Kardashian (Lawsuit)
On the same day as the above suit filed against Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian was slapped with a lawsuit by Kirsten Kjaer Weis, a Danish makeup artist, who alleges that Kardashian is infringing her brand by way of Kardashian's newly-launched beauty company, which bears the “KKW” trademark. According to Weis’s lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, she has made use of her federally registered “KW” trademark since September 2010 on cosmetics and that Kim K is infringing that mark with her KKW cosmetics line.
The case was settled in November 2018.
15. JULY 2017: Snap Light, LLC et al v. KimsAPrincess Inc. (Lawsuit)
Kim Kardashian is being sued for $100 million over her go-to iPhone case. According to a new lawsuit filed by Snap Light, LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Kardashian’s company, Kimsaprincess Inc., is on the hook for promoting LuMee, the light-up phone case ideal for taking selfies, which infringes Snap Light’s own patent-protected iPhone case.
The case was settled in March 2018.
16. DECEMBER 2017: Kim Kardashian’s Kids Supply v. Vetements, Comme des Garçons
Kim and Kanye came under fire in Decemvber 2017 after their kids like was revealed to include some oh-so-similar looking garments. In particular, one Kids Supply bomber bore a more-than-incidental resemblance to a Comme des Garçons x Kosho & Co. souvenir jacket, and another silver-sequined dress was a near replica of the miniature Vetements dress that daughter North West rather famously wore to match her mom during New York Fashion Week last fall.
17. APRIL 2018: Pizzaboyzzz v. Kendall Jenner (Lawsuit)
Kendall Jenner only just launched her new Beats 1 music show, which Apple Music describes as "a monthly living room pizza party," and she has already been threatened with a lawsuit. Thanks to the brand-new Apple Music audio show venture, which Jenner launched along with DJ Daniel Chetrit, entitled Pizza Boys, the reality star-turned-model has found herself on the receiving end of a strongly-worded cease and desist letter from Robert Karaguezian, the founder of a Los Angeles-based brand and artist collective called Pizzaboyzzz.
The case was settled in July 2018.
18. APRIL 2018: KKW Body v. Jean-Paul Gaultier
Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier took to his brand's Instagram account this week to shed light on the visual similarity between his classic body-shaped fragrance bottles and the newly-revealed fragrance, KKW Body by Kim Kardashian. The famed couturier seemed to suggest that the reality star-turned-budding consumer goods mogul was inspired by his own 25-year old fragrance range.
19. JULY 2018: Vibes Media, LLC, v. KKW Fragrance, LLC (Lawsuit)
Kim Kardashian has been hit with yet another lawsuit for allegedly stealing another company’s trademark-protected logo – the latest in a long line of litigation and copying claims for the reality television family. According to the complaint that Vibes Media filed in a federal court in Illinois this week, KKW Fragrance is on the hook for selling a Kimoji fragrance in a bottle that looks a bit too much like the Chicago-based marketing company’s federally registered “Vibes” trademark.
20. FEBRUARY 2019: David Liebensohn v. Kimsaprincess, Inc. and Kim Kardashian West (Lawsuit)
Kim Kardashian is being sued for allegedly stealing the name and idea for her multi-million dollar grossing Kimoji app. App developer David Liebensohn filed a $100 million fraud and breach of contract suit against Kardashian, alleging that he and his team created the “Kimoji” venture and agreed to a partnership deal with Kardashian in 2014, only to have Kardashian swiftly cut him out less than a month later and create the app with her own team.