The Kardashian sisters are suing a cosmetics company that used their name for a makeup line. (Photo: Getty Images)
Celebrity collaborations are big business, and carefully working on products to bring to market can be a major part of building a star’s brand. In terms of endorsing products and collaborating with companies, there’s no name more eye-catching than the Kardashians’, but the sisters are crying foul over a new beauty line. Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé are suing Hillair Capital-owned Haven Beauty for releasing a new cosmetic line under the Kardashian Beauty name, allegedly without their consent or involvement.
First, let’s explain the history behind the current lawsuit. In 2012, the Kardashian sisters made a deal with Boldface Licensing + Branding to create a makeup line. However, after disagreements over the line’s direction and, according to the Kardashians, mismanagement internally at the branding company, Boldface folded. This is when Hillair Capital Management LLC dove in, bought Kardashian Beauty assets, and launched Haven Beauty as a presumptive joint venture with the three sisters.
Hillair initially wanted to revive and save Kardashian Beauty, but Kim, Kourt, and Khloé did not seem to want to work with the cosmetic company now governing the line. In March, Hillair filed a $180 million lawsuit for breach of contract and fraud, among other claims, stating that the Kardashians were profiting from the beauty line but not fulfilling their obligation to promote or market the venture.
Read This Next: Talking Bee Venom With Kourtney Kardashian
Ever since, the Kardashians and Hillair have been involved in a bitter legal dispute about the sisters’ involvement (or lack thereof). Fast-forward to this past weekend, when Haven Beauty pushed ahead with a new Kardashian Beauty drop, allegedly without the sisters’ blessing or input. The product announcement appeared across Kardashian Beauty social media, including photos of and statements from Kourtney, Kim, and Khloé.
This prompted the Kardashians to file a suit of their own against Hillair for trademark infringement. “The three Kardashian sisters are not in business with this cosmetic company,” a Kardashian spokesperson told TMZ. “The people selling the Kardashian Beauty brand and their predatory owners knew this and are attempting to mislead the Kardashians’ fans by stating that the Kardashians are still involved. This outrageous conduct is a legal matter and will be dealt with accordingly.”
According to Julie Zerbo, founder and editor in chief of the Fashion Law, it’s not uncommon for celebrities to file lawsuits against parties that use their name or likeness without consent to turn a profit. Just this year, Kardashian sis Kendall Jenner filed suit against skincare company Cutera for using her name and photo in an advertising campaign. Scarlett Johansson sued a French publisher for unauthorized use of her name in a novel in 2013.
Read This Next: This Is Why the Kardashians Are All Wearing Braids
Two years ago, Reese Witherspoon filed a lawsuit against a jewelry company for using her name and likeness to sell a look-alike of her engagement ring from first husband Ryan Phillippe, which was settled out of court earlier in 2016. Sofia Vergara brought a multimillion dollar case against Venus Concepts, which proclaimed the actress had tried and endorsed a skin-tightening massage treatment; the lawsuit claims she did try it, but did not like the treatment and would never promote or endorse it to fans.
The recent Kardashian dispute is much stickier, though. “What complicates this case is the past dealings these parties have had and the acquisition of Boldface assets by Hillair,” Zerbo tells Yahoo Beauty. “But with this new suit, the girls are citing trademark infringement, essentially saying Hillair and Haven currently lack the legal right to use their name and they are not tied to the company’s venture.”
Zerbo says a key driver of a celebrity trademark infringement lawsuit is wanting the party to stop promoting, marketing, and selling using the star’s moniker and photo. Sometimes, monetary damages are also awarded based on profits, but Zerbo says it may be hard to prove Hillair profited from this recent makeup line since the products were just announced.
Read This Next: How the Kardashians Went From Contour to Nontour
Who has the best case? It’s almost impossible to tell, says Zerbo, “without seeing the actual agreements” made by the Kardashians and Boldface, as well as Hillair and Haven. “However, Hillair bought Boldface in trouble, and one of their biggest assets was the Kardashian name,” Zerbo explains. “Intellectual property rights and trademarks are a big part of these acquisition deals.”
That said, Zerbo says the Kardashians will have a “strong and competent” legal team onboard to fight for their rights and protect their trademarks, which will definitely affect the case’s outcome.
Time will tell exactly how this all plays out, but now you know just who is alleging what in this overly complex beauty battle royal — and that the Kardashians claim not to be involved with this new makeup line that bears their name.