The saga of Kim Kardashian West’s infamous "vampire facial” lives on — as she is now suing an Alabama-based doctor who she claims has been promoting the procedure using her name and likeness.
For those playing catch-up, here’s the backstory: In 2013, Kim got a “vampire facial” on an episode of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami. Afterward, Kardashian West posted a blood-covered selfie to her Instagram account. Five years later, in 2018, Kim shared in a blog post on her website (now deleted) in which she said she regretted getting the facial and wouldn’t try doing it again. It is worth noting that when she received the facial she was pregnant, which meant that she had to forego painkillers and numbing cream — making for what she described in 2018 as "a super uncomfortable experience."
Fast-forward to today, and Kardashian West is suing an Alabama-based doctor for using her name and likeness to promote the "vampire facial" procedure without having her permission to do so. Per a complaint filed by her attorneys on Monday, December 9, under the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Kardashian West is suing Charles Runels and the Cellular Medicine Association for copyright infringement, infringement of registered mark, false association, violation of the right of publicity, and California common law trademark infringement. Runels was not the doctor who performed Kardashian West's facial, however, he claims to own the trademark for "Vampire Facial."
According to the complaint, viewed by Allure, Runels markets himself as the "Orgasm Doctor," referencing another PRP procedure, and "most of his time is spent touting the various cosmetic procedures he has purported to trademark — including, as relevant here, the Vampire Facial (as well as the Orgasm Shot, the Vampire Facelift, and the Vampire Breast Lift)." The complaint also goes on to state that "...as of December 2017 he was charging 'over 650 medical providers' about $190,000 per month from licensing fees for approximately 2000 'licenses.'"
The filed complaint includes screenshots of Runels' promotional pamphlets and website, which feature Kim’s name and image. A screenshot of Runels’ LinkedIn profile is also included in the complaint, in which his background is a photo mash-up of Kardashian West and model Bar Refaeli (who also previously posted an Instagram of herself in 2013 having a "vampire facial").
“While 'the Kardashians' — or, more accurately, Ms. Kardashian and her sister Kourtney — did 'get' a Vampire Facial, it was seven years ago. And they had certainly never licensed their name in connection with the procedure," the complaint reads. "Upon further investigation, Ms. Kardashian was horrified to discover that her name and likeness were plastered all over Runels’ website (www.vampirefacial.com).”
The complaint goes on to state that the reality star herself reached out to Runels before taking this legal action and implored him to quit using her name and likeness. "When Ms. Kardashian reached out to Runels and his trademark attorney to demand that he cease using her name and likeness without her consent, he not only refused to take down the pictures of her and references to her; he had the temerity to demand that she pay him," the complaint reads.
The complaint also states that “Ms. Kardashian’s actual endorsement for a nationwide campaign such as this would command a fee well into eight figures (assuming she would even agree to do such a campaign, which she most assuredly would not).” But this isn’t about money, it goes on to say. "Setting aside the monetary value, however, it is Ms. Kardashian’s choice whether or not to commercially endorse another party’s goods and services," it reads.
Although Kardashian West has yet to make a public statement about the filing, attorney Michael J. Kump from her legal team told Allure in an email that, “at this time, we’re going to let the Complaint ‘speak for itself,’ and there is no further comment.”
Runels has addressed the lawsuit on his website, and he also sent us the following statement: “Ms Kardashian-West, among other things, publicly did a procedure using the name that I own, 'Vampire Facial (R).' She then did her usual and very brilliant strategies to make sure that her activities went viral. She was not trying to hide the fact she had the procedure, she advertised it. I did not ask her to either have the procedure done or to advertise it.”
In his statement to Allure, Runels also claims that he has since removed all of the cited photographs. His statement concludes: “I hope we can make peace and that she will forgive the offense. I never thought that her public display of having the procedure would later cause her grief. I’ve already taken down all mentions.”
We will keep you updated as the story progresses.
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Originally Appeared on Allure