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."
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
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.
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
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
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 to Face Copyright Infringement Suit Over 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
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.
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 Slapped with Cease-and-Desist Letters Over "Vintage" T-Shirts
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.
According to a letter sent to the Jenners' team from The Doors' counsel: "In addition to trademark infringement and unfair competition, the apparel violates Jim Morrison's post-mortem right of publicity." The group's manager Jeff Jampol told Rolling Stone, "This is a case of people who fashion themselves as celebrities who are famous for being well-known but don't actually do anything trying to utilize and steal and capitalize on the legacies of those who actually did do something and created amazing art and messages."