IP Law News

Kim Kardashian Launches Trademark Case Against U.K. Retailer (1)

Feb. 21, 2019, 6:43 PMUpdated: Feb. 21, 2019, 8:53 PM

Kim Kardashian West is demanding at least $30 million from Missguided Ltd., a U.K.-based online clothing retailer, in a lawsuit alleging the retailer uses her image and trademarked name to sell clothing without her permission.

Missguided copies designs worn by celebrities like Kardashian and offers them for sale online within days after the celebrities are photographed wearing the designs, Kardashian and her company, Kimsaprincess Inc., alleged in a Feb. 20 complaint. Kardashian alleges Missguided regularly uses her fame to market clothes without permission. Her complaint includes screen grabs from the retailer’s U.S. website prominently featuring Kardashian’s name and image.

The case illustrates how celebrities can register their names as trademarks and control public use of their names and images. Right of publicity allows individuals to control commercial use of their name and image, and falls under varying state laws.

Kardashian is seeking injunctive relief and “not less than $10 million” in actual damages from lost profits for trademark infringement and right of publicity misappropriation. She claims consumers have expressed confusion in online posts suggesting that she must be collaborating with Missguided. Kardashian argues she is also entitled to triple damages and legal costs because of the willfulness and maliciousness of the infringement.

Missguided did not immediately comment in response to a Bloomberg Law request.

The lawsuit also lashes out at the “fast fashion” industry, where online vendors quickly copy fashions captured in media pictures of celebrities and offer them for sale. Kardashian’s suit doesn’t claim intellectual property rights to the particular clothing in the pictures. But she says Missguided has “become particularly well known” for copying fashion designs and selling inexpensive derivative designs “if not blatant knock-offs” within “days—sometimes even hours—of the celebrity appearing in the clothing.”

‘Systemically Misappropriated’

Kardashian said Missguided “systematically misappropriated” her name and likeness through a number of online outlets. The company’s website has a link titled “Shop Kim K.” where consumers “can buy clothing copied from Kardashian’s prior looks.” Other pages promote Missguided’s “knock-off clothing” with pictures of Kardashian, as well as her “famous sisters,” the complaint said.

The complaint also points to Instagram posts by Missguided using Kardashian to promote its online offerings. In an example, Misguided “quickly responded” to a Kardashian post of a picture of her in a dress with its own post showing a model in a similar dress. The Missguided post tagged Kardashian’s username saying “you’ve only got a few days before this drops online"—or as the complaint put it, “boasting that it would be ripping off the design.”

Missguided “routinely” posted other photos of Kardashian, the complaint said, either to link to its site’s offerings or simply to promote its brand through her celebrity. Misguided embossed its logo on some of the photos, including one of her and her husband, Kanye West, shown in the complaint, it said.

The complaint notes that Kardashain has registered trademarks on “Kim Kardashian” and “Kim Kardashian West” for advertising services and brand promotion. Missguided’s use of the mark is likely to confuse consumers into thinking Kardashian endorses Missguided, and in cases already has, the suit said.

Kardashian is represented by Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP.

The case is Kimsaprincess Inc. et al. v. Missguided USA (Finance) Inc. et al., C.D. Cal., No. 19-cv-1258, Complaint 2/20/19

(Updated with additional reporting)

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyle Jahner in Washington at kjahner@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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