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Kardashian sisters slapped down in trademark battle

Friday March 22, 2013 at 9:28am
Kardashian makeup line "Khroma Beauty"

The Kardashian sisters have landed themselves in a serious legal row over their new beauty product line “Khroma Beauty.” Supposedly the brain child of Kim Kardashian, “Khroma Beauty” was announced only last year and due to expand to over 5000 retail venues later this month, with specific product lines developed by each of the three sisters. Unfortunately for the Kardashians, overwhelming evidence proving the true origins of the “Khroma Beauty” name reveals an unmistaken similarity to an existing beauty product line “Kroma Makeup” which has been in business since 2004.

With the Kardashians rumoured to make upwards of $6 million from their venture, they charged ahead with product development despite having their trademark application for the word “Khroma” rejected by the US Patent and Trademark office in January 2012. In response to their application, the USPTO claimed the name “Khroma” was too similar to the name “Kroma,” a registered trading brand name cosmetic company.

In fact, Kroma’s founder and owner, Lee Tillett, registered the name back in 2010 and had been trading under that name for six years prior to that. Upon hearing of the “Khroma” line, Tillett sent a cease-and-desist letter to their distributor Boldface Group which was also ignored by the sisters. In reaction to their behaviour Tillett commented: "'I developed the Kroma line myself, built my business through my own hard work, and took the legal steps necessary to protect it. "… now [I have] been forced into legal battle with the Kardashians simply because they have decided to take something that doesn't belong to them."

Lee Tillett filed suit against the Kardashians’ licensing partner for $10 million, claiming “Khroma Beauty” would add confusion in the marketplace, misleading customers into thinking her line is associated with the Kardashian sisters: “'The false association is damaging … and threatens to destroy my business.”

It seems that the judge agrees with Tillett. In her ruling earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins explains that 'Tillett has demonstrated that [she] will likely lose business opportunities, customers and goodwill due to Boldface’s use of the confusingly similar Khroma Beauty marks. The court has little doubt that, in short order, the Khroma Beauty products will likely eliminate Tillett’s business entirely, creating irreparable harm sufficient to justify an injunction.”

The injunction is not effective at this point, pending a probable appeal by Boldface. An outcome in favour of the Kardashians seems highly unlikely, especially in light of some potentially damaging information which has come to light regarding Kardashian’s prior knowledge of “Kroma Makeup” well before designing their “Khroma Beauty” line.

In 2010, Tillett’s attorney, Elliot Gipson, made contact with TLK Fusion, the product placement agency for the Kardashians, to discuss possible placement of her Kroma makeup line in the Kardashian reality TV show. Samples were sent to TLK, talks continued but no deal was struck. Gipson may be able to use this information to prove that Kim Kardashian based her Khroma cosmetics line on the samples she was given.

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