A week after the launch of her new skin care brand, Rhode, Hailey Bieber is facing a lawsuit for trademark infringement.
Rhode, a nine-year-old fashion brand cofounded by Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, filed the suit against the model and her two companies in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday, in what they say is an effort to protect their brand trademark. According to court documents, they are requesting that a federal judge immediately block Bieber’s use of the brand name, which also happens to be her middle name, under the federal Lanham Act and New York common law.
In a filing, Khatau states that she and Vickers launched their brand in May 2013 and have “dedicated ourselves to growing and nurturing the Rhode brand through much personal sacrifice and hardship,” according to People. The brand, which is now sold at major luxury retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, is expected to make $14.5 million this year and has also been worn by a long list of high-profile celebrities such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Tracee Ellis Ross. The fashion brand owns the “Rhode” trademark for several types of clothing items and accessories and, according to People, they’ve also filed to expand that trademark to include additional categories such as home goods, and were considering makeup and skin care as well.
In a joint statement, Khatau and Vickers wrote that they “were forced to file a lawsuit against Hailey Bieber and her skin-care line that launched last week and that is using the brand name ‘rhode.’ We didn’t want to file this lawsuit, but we had to in order to protect our business. While a global brand, we are still a young and growing company, and we cannot overcome a celebrity with Hailey’s following using our company’s name to sell related products.” They go on to say that while they “wish her every success,” at the same time they have to ask Bieber to change the name of her skin care line as “her using our name is hurting our company, our employees, our customers, and our partners.… We’re both part of a larger beauty market in which fashion and cosmetics closely overlap and often collaborate. Hailey has stated that she wants to pursue a clothing line, and she even applied for ‘rhode’ as a trademark for clothing. We welcome competition—we just don’t want competitors using our name.” They also noted that four years ago, the model attempted to buy the rights to the name from them outright, but they declined the offer.
The fashion brand’s attorney reportedly added Tuesday, “This is a textbook case of reverse confusion, in which a massive junior trademark user threatens to trample a smaller senior user’s market. The magnitude of Bieber’s following and the virality of her marketing will cause immediate, ongoing and irreparable harm to the Rhode brand. And the hardships and public interest weigh overwhelmingly in favor of protecting the nine-year investment of two upstart entrepreneurs over the latest mega-venture by a mega-star.” A representative for Bieber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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