Is it really a Kardashian brand if it does not involve a branding-centric squabble? On the heels of teasing a brand called Kimono and then changing the name (after the tags were made) to Skims following widespread consumer outrage and a formal letter from the Mayor of Kyoto, Kim Kardashian is facing a renewed need to potentially rebrand – albeit not for her burgeoning Skims undergarments collection but her new skincare line, SKKN. (You may also recall the multiple legal battles that centered on eldest sisters Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe’s very first – and now defunct – beauty venture Khrome, which was subsequently given a new name, Kardashian Beauty).
It turns out that Kim Kardashian is already facing pushback over the not-yet-launched SKKN collection, one that she started filing trademark applications for registration for – under her corporate entity, Kimsaprincess Inc. – with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) this spring. In March, counsel for Kardashian filed 19 trademark applications – on an intent to use basis – for “SKKN by Kim” for use on everything from furniture, towels and beauty tools to nutritional supplements, beauty salon and skincare services, and of course, cosmetics, skincare products, and fragrances. Not quite finished filing, Kardashian’s counsel lodged a twentieth application for registration on July 9 for “SKKN” for use on “perfumes; cosmetics; skin care preparations; [and] hair care preparations,” among an array of other related products.
While the trademark applications are still early on in the pre-registration process with the USPTO and ultimately, not eligible to registration until Kardashian actually begins using the marks in commerce on the goods and services listed above, which she is not yet doing, a legal battle is already brewing, as another party argues in a newly-reported cease and desist letter that Kardashian is angling to co-opt a name that it began using years before Kardashian began filing her applications.
According to a number of media reports, Kardashian is facing off against a Brooklyn, New York-based skincare services company founded by esthetician Cyndie Lunsford, who claims that she has been using the SKKN+ trademark for years before Kardashian’s camp began filing registrations for the “confusingly similar” SKKN name.
SKKN+ filed a trademark application for registration of its own for “skin care salon services care services; Beauty spa services; Skin care services; Beauty salon services” in March 2021, which is, of course a year later than the bulk of Kardashian’s applications were lodged. That filing date is not the most significant date for SKKN+, however, as Lunsford’s application states that her first use of the SKKN+ mark occurred in August 2018, which means that she was the earlier of the two parties to use the mark, and trademark rights in the U.S. are granted to the first use to actually use a mark in commerce and not the first to file a trademark application.
Counsel for Kardashian, Michael G. Rhodes said in a statement on Friday that the parties are handling the matter, noting that “the question at hand is one of trademark law, and we have not done anything deserving of legal action by [Lunsford],” presumably referring to the cease and desist letter. “While [we] disagree with the letter,” Rhodes says that he is “hopeful that we can smooth things over once both sides speak.”