The Kardashian family has built a business empire out of its reality television fame. However, its latest business venture could be doomed by a $10 million trademark infringement lawsuit.
Khroma Beauty, the Kardashian’s new cosmetic line, is facing a preliminary injunction that halts all product sales until a trademark infringement lawsuit is resolved. The plaintiff in the case, Kroma Makeup, is actually the second cosmetics company to file suit against Boldface Licensing + Branding, which licenses the Kardashians’ names and likenesses.
In the latest trademark infringement lawsuit, By Lee Tillett, Inc. alleges that the Khroma Beauty product launch has caused and will cause substantial consumer confusion with its federally registered KROMA mark for cosmetics. In considering a request for preliminary injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins agreed. She concluded that the marks both “sound identical” and “appear nearly identical.” She further noted that the “parties both sell cosmetics, and in fact, some of their products are identical, such as blush, compacts, gloss, lip kits, foundation, eye shadow, and bronzer.”
Given the likelihood of both infringement and irreparable harm, the court approved the injunction. “Tillett has demonstrated that it will likely lose business opportunities, customers, and goodwill due to Boldface’s use of the confusingly similar Khroma Beauty marks,” the judge held. “This Court has little doubt that, in short order, the Khroma Beauty products will likely eliminate Tillett’s business entirely, creating irreparable harm to justify an injunction.”
Interestingly, similar issues were raised in the second IP lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles-based makeup studio using marks incorporating the word “Chroma.” However, in that case, the court denied Chroma Makeup Studio LLC’s request for a preliminary injunction.
The court ultimately concluded that although the Chroma demonstrated that it owned valid common law rights in trademarks that were likely infringed, that it would be irreparably harmed by Boldface’s product rollout, and that the public interest was served by an injunction, the balance of hardships tipped strongly against an injunction. As explained by the court in the Tillett case, “The plaintiff there had only common law rights in an unregistered mark, which were limited in scope, and Boldface would have been injured far beyond the rights the plaintiff had established had it been enjoined even in the limited area where the plaintiff’s rights were protected.”
As these cases highlight, requests for preliminary injunctions are determined by a number of factors. With regard to Kroma, the court acknowledged that the added protection of a federally licensed trademark certainly helped to tip the scales in its favor.