Almost a year after Khloe Kardashian and her brand Good American were named in a headline-making trade dress infringement and fraud lawsuit for allegedly copying the design of the bodysuits upon which d.bleu.dazzled has made its name, the parties have settled their legal squabble. According to the notice of settlement that counsel for dbleudazzled, LLC lodged with the California Superior Court in Los Angeles last month, the parties have come to a confidential resolution, prompting d.bleu.dazzled to voluntarily dismiss the $10 million fraud and deceit, common law trade dress infringement, misappropriation, and unfair competition case that it initiated against Kardashian and her 5-year-old brand in late May 2020.
In the complaint that it filed in a California state court on May 29, 2020, Los Angeles-based d.bleu.dazzled alleged that between 2016 and 2017, Kardashian – by way of her team – “purchased and borrowed numerous pieces of [d.bleu.dazzled ] clothing, under the false pretense that the clothing items were for [the 36-year-old star’s] personal use.” The problem? Instead of actually wearing the garments, as her team had led d.bleu.dazzled to believe would happen, Kardashian copied them for the clothing brand that she was secretly working on at the time and that she eventually launched in September 2016 to allegedly sweeping success.
Leading up to the debut of the brand, whose product lineup primarily consisted of denim offerings and has since been expanded to include an array of ready-to-wear, d.bleu.dazzled asserted that “Kardashian and Good American decided to create a line of women’s bodysuits.” But in lieu of “creating their own bodysuit designs, Kardashian and Good American decided it would be easier to knock off the proven designs of d.bleu.dazzled,” which has garnered a growing pool of uber-famous fans, including “A-list celebrities,” such as Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and even Kardashian-Jenner family member Kylie Jenner, among many others, since it was founded in 2011.
“From November 2016 through May 2017, Kardashian, through her assistants, repeatedly contacted [d.bleu.dazzled founder] Destiney Bleu Lewisand others at d.bleu.dazzled to order at least sixteen made-to-measure garments,” the brand argued in the suit. “At no time did [Kardashian or Good American] disclose to anyone at d.bleu.dazzled that [they] were planning to create their own clothing line with similar designs.” In fact, “Had Ms. Lewis been advised of [their] secret intent to steal her designs, she would not have sold or lent any garments to them.”
Fast forward to June 2017, and d.bleu.dazzled claimed that Good American began offering up “bodysuits bearing [a] striking resemblance” to its own signature offerings,” which consist of nude and black bodysuits embellished with crystals. To make matters worse, “After Ms. Lewis and numerous members of the public pointed out the blatant copying” by Good American, rather than “properly acknowledge and compensate Ms. Lewis for the designs,” d.bleu.dazzled claims that Kardashian and Good American responded by “sending a cease and desist letter in an attempt to silence Ms. Lewis.”
With such “misappropriation and infringement” in mind, d.bleu.dazzled stated that it had “no choice” but to file suit “seeking damages that it has suffered” as a result of Kardashian and Good American’s conduct. As for what exactly d.bleu.dazzled claims it maintains trademark rights in, the company characterizes its trade dress as “a unique design and placement of crystal rhinestones on intimate garments made of form-fitting materials (such as Spandex, Lycra, and nylon) with a sheer or semi-opaque look (such as mesh, micro-mesh, lace, and fishnets).”
An Anti-SLAPP Battle
The settlement comes on the heels of the court shutting down the special motion that counsel for Kardashian and Good American filed in an attempt to get the California Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) claims that d.bleu.dazzled lodged against them dismissed from the case on the basis that they fall within the bounds of the state’s anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”) statute, and thus, should be tossed out in order to protect the defendants’ “constitutionally protected speech.”
In a decision in late December, Judge Elaine Lu of the California Superior Court in Los Angeles sided with d.bleu.dazzled, holding that statements made by the reality mega-star and Good American concerning their own lookalike bodysuits – including an official statement from Good American, asserting in a June 2017 article published by Cosmo that “under no circumstances did Good American or Khloe Kardashian infringe another brand’s intellectual property” – are exempt from the protections of the state’s anti-SLAPP statute.
(The second “statement” came from three Instagram Good American posts of images of Cher, Diana Ross and Britney Spears in crystal embedded tops along with the language, “Important to know your fashion history #nofrauds,” “Vintage Diana Ross. Showgirl vibes. #inspo” and “Britney in Toxic #inspo,” all of which were in reference to allegations that the designs were inspired by/infringed dbleudazzled’s trade dress in embellished bodysuits. And in the third statement, Kardashian suggested in a June 2017 Instagram post announcing the launch of the Good American bodysuit collection “that she came up with the designs for [her allegedly infringing] bodysuit over the course of almost a year, when in reality,” d.bleu.dazzled claims, “she spent several months ordering [d.bleu.dazzled’s] bodysuits and copying those designs.”)
Because d.bleu.dazzled’s UCL claims were based at least in part on the unprotected activity (i.e., the defendants’ infringement of its trade dress), as well as on three specific statements made by Kardashian and/or the brand, the court ultimately held that “the defendants’ special motion to strike the UCL claims in their entirety is denied.” Even if the court were to find that any of the statements at issue were not exempt from the protections of the state’s anti-SLAPP statute, Judge Lu found that Good American/Kardashian’s motion failed because d.bleu.dazzled met the “minimal merit” standard – or in other words, Lewis’ brand established that its case has at least some merit. (More about the anti-SLAPP proceedings here.)
As for the terms of the settlement, those remain confidential, but very well may include a monetary component. It is worth noting that the bodysuits in question no longer appear on Good American’s e-commerce site. Although, they may have been pulled prior to dbleudazzled, LLC’s May 4 notice of settlement and request for dismissal.
The case is dbleudazzled, LLC v. Khloe Kardashian and Good American, LLC, 20STCV20510 (Cal.Sup.).