In a world where competition, technology, and businesses are increasing and the environment is dynamic, creating a brand name is not an easy task. When a company creates a unique brand name, its customers easily identify it among its other identical competitors who are dealing in a similar market. Similarly, Kim Kardashian is facing an accusation of stealing the name of her skincare brand.
On 1st June, Kim Kardashian announced the launch of her skincare brand SKKN on her social media. But fans thrashed her and accused her of stealing the name from Lori Harvey, who has her own skincare company called SKN.
This is not the first time, after Kardashian made an application to file the trademark SKKN and SKKN by KIM in US Patent and Trademark Office, the legal team received a cease and desist letter from Beauty Concepts LLC, in which they already owned the salon, skin care and spa services with the name SKNN+. In the letter, Beauty Concepts owner Cyndie Lunsford claimed she’s operating the salons under the SKKN+ brand name since 2018.
Brands play an important role in establishing the relationship between the company, and its products, and creating an image in the minds of the consumers. It is often seen that Courts relate the brands with trademarks but the brand is the broader term and includes the trademark. It is important to note that all brands are not registered trademarks. Trademarks act as the legal protection for those aspects of the brand which are unique and distinct in nature. The brand is what people see, the image of the company in their mind, and the trademark is the specific aspect of a brand. These specific aspects can be a brand name, words, logos, packaging, colour schemes, etc. Trademarks are vital protection against the misuse of the brand. Registration of a trademark is not mandatory as per the legislation but it is preferred. In the case of unregistered trademarks, the protection under the law is very limited as is in comparison to the registered trademark.
In case if you need to file a suit for trademark infringement, you need to prove ownership in terms of first usage, the burden of proof is on you i.e., the person filing the suit for infringement. It is easier to prove the infringement in case you have the registered mark.
If the above case of SKKN by KIM vs. SKKN+, Beauty Concepts LLP is comparatively the smaller player in the market, though litigation is still under process. In this case, Beauty Concepts claimed that “Over the course of four years, Beauty Concepts has built a successful woman- and Black-owned small business and brand, established a strong social media presence, and served thousands of customers from its Brooklyn location”.
Despite this Kim didn’t back off and argued that the United States Patent and Trademark Office previously rejected SKNN+’s attempt to obtain a sole trademark for the mark due to “SKKN” being not registrable. The reality star points out the company runs a single spa out of Brooklyn. Kim believes the company is simply trying to interfere with her business. She also claimed she filed for the trademark first. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has yet to rule on the matter. The importance of registering the trademark can be deduced from here, if SKKN+ was a registered trademark by Beauty concepts, the battle would have been easier for them to protect their brand. The myth has to be broken that trademark protection is only for big players in the market, a brand may be big or small, and trademark registration should be preferred.
In the case of Lori Harvey, it is the brand of KIM has been an issue again and fans have been claiming that her business would confuse fans and ruin Lori’s brand.
It is an interesting battle for SKKN by KIM.
Stay tuned for more updates!
Happy reading 🙂