Kim Kardashian is suing Missguided for using her to sell its copycat garments. Counsel for Kardashian filed a complaint on her behalf in a California federal court on Wednesday, accusing the Manchester-based fast fashion company of engaging in “willful” trademark infringement and unfair competition, and of running afoul of right of publicity law by using Kardashian’s name and images of her to promote its wares without her authorization.
According to Kardashian’s newly-filed suit, “While most companies understand and respect [her] right to control and approve any use of her name and likeness in connection with the promotion of products, other companies have sought out ways to leverage her celebrity status and social media following without seeking her consent,” thereby, “turning her into an unwitting and unwilling spokesperson of their products.” The latter is precisely what has transpired with Missguided, the lawsuit asserts.
“In the instant case, Misguided [has] made this sort of unlawful misappropriation of Kardashian’s persona – and that of many other celebrities as well – a cornerstone of their marketing and sales strategy,” the reality star declares.
Unlike other fast fashion companies that merely replicate Kardashian’s outfits and sell them for less, Kardashian asserts that Missguided is distinct, as it has taken things a step further by “systematically using [her] name and images of [her] … to advertise and spark interest in its website and clothing.” Such consistent unauthorized uses have come in the form of multiple Instagram posts featuring photos of Kardashian and that have included her name as a hashtag, and an entire “Shop Kim K” section on the Missguided website.
By way of such “unauthorized uses of Kardashian’s trademarked name and likeness to promote its website and products,” Missguided is “blatantly and willfully” engaging in trademark infringement (as source-identifying uses of Kardashian’s name are protected by trademark law). Kardashian also asserts that such unauthorized use of her likeness gives rise, as TFL has noted in the past, to particularly strong right of publicity violations.
The right of publicity is a state-specific legal doctrine developed to give individuals – such as Kardashian – the ability to prevent others from commercially exploiting their names and/or likenesses without permission. In accordance with this doctrine, celebrities have grounds to take action when their names, images, likenesses, etc. are used for commercial purposes, such as to promote the sale of garments and accessories.
“A single social media post by Kardashian can fetch fees of several hundred thousand dollars, and her longer-term endorsement arrangements regularly garner fees in the millions of dollars,” Kardashian’s complaint asserts.
More than that, Kardashian asserts that she is very “selective of the third-party companies with whom she chooses to partner,” frequently opting out of proposed endorsement deals in an effort to “control the use of her name, likeness, and trademarks.” With this in mind, Kardashian says she is suffering actual monetary damages as a result of Missguided’s posts, which aim to make consumers believe she is working in partnership with the brand. With that in mind, Kardashian has asked the court to award her monetary damages of an amount to be proven at trial “but no less than $10 million,” and to immediately and permanently bar Missguided from using her name and any images of her.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of Missguided posting an image of a lookalike model wearing a metallic cut-out frock, a dead-ringer for a custom Yeezy dress that Kardashian posted an image of just a few hours prior with a plea that “fast fashion brands ... please wait until I wear this in real life before you knock it off?” Just a few hours later, Missguided posted a sneak peek of the copycat dress, along with the caption, “The devil works hard but Missguided works harder,” prompting Instagram call-out account Diet Prada to “incorrectly” accuse (according to the complaint) Kardashian of leaking imagery to the brand as part of a behind-the-scenes deal..
A rep for Missguided has not responded to a request for comment.
* The case is Kimsaprincess, Inc.; and Kim Kardashian West v. Missguided USA (Finance) Inc., and Missguided Limited, 2:19-cv-01258 (C.D.Cal).