Kim Kardashian West’s trade mark woes and the love-hate relationship between celebrities and IP
The worlds of celebrity and IP intersect with surprising frequency. On the one hand, celebrities such as sportsmen and entertainers can use IP to make themselves even wealthier. On the other hand, celebrities, especially those in fields such as music and film, need to be very aware of the IP rights of others. It’s probably also true to say that the fame and wealth that celebrities enjoy can make them targets for some pretty dodgy IP claims. While the link with celebrity generates a lot of publicity for IP, there is the risk that it can trivialise this highly important field of law.
It seems almost impossible to have a discussion about celebrities without mention of the Kardashians. So, let’s move on to Kim Kardashian West. Kim is being sued for trade mark infringement and, more unusually, she is also being sued for patent infringement.
Let’s start with trade marks. The claim involves Kim’s recently launched makeup brand KKW. A New York-based cosmetic artist by the name Kirsten Kjaer Weis (so also KKW) is suing for trade mark infringement. The action has been filed against Kim’s company, which is called Kimsaprincess, Inc (my earlier remarks about trivialising IP probably apply here). Weis, who claims that she has been known as KKW for many years, sees Kim as something of a “Kimmy Come Lately”, saying that Kim only started using the initials KKW in 2014 when she married Kanye West.
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