09 February 2017

Kylie Jenner, you should be so lucky

Kylie Minogue and a member of the Kardashian clan have been embroiled in a trade mark registration dispute in the USA since 2014. Kim Kardashian’s younger sister, Kylie Jenner, applied to register numerous trade marks for “KYLIE JENNER” and “KYLIE” in relation to fashion and cosmetics. She also applied to register “KYLIE” for entertainment, pop culture and personal appearances, together with advertising services, such as endorsements and promotion of others goods/services.

The Australian pop star, Kylie Minogue, opposed Jenner’s application in relation to advertising services, on the basis that it would cause confusion among consumers and dilute her brand. Minogue’s lawyers described the “Keeping up with the Kardashian” star as a “secondary reality television personality” who played merely a “supporting character” in the Kardashian television show.

Minogue’s lawyers allege Ms Jenner was better known for “exhibitionism and controversial posts”. They also mention that Ms Jenner has received criticisms from disability rights groups, likely a reference to a controversial photo shoot involving Ms Jenner posing in provocative clothing in a wheelchair. In contrast, Minogue’s lawyers highlight that Kylie is a breast cancer survivor who helped to increase research and public awareness during her illness. They also explain her humanitarian efforts, such as assisting with an AIDS research foundation.

The matter appears to have reached a successful conclusion, as on 19 January the opposition was withdrawn. Although it is not thought that the whole saga has come to an end, with Jenner continually filing additional applications, including for a trade mark for KYLIE for entertainment services.

This follows the recent conclusion of another trade mark dispute in relation to a celebrity’s name. Michael Jordan recently won a trade mark dispute in the Supreme Court in China against a Chinese sportswear company, Qiaodan Sports Co. The Chinese characters for Qiaodan, which the company used on its merchandise, are a Chinese translation of Jordan’s name. He argued that the chances of confusion were increased by their additional use of a silhouette of a jumping basketball player.

The Supreme Court Judge agreed and decided that the company’s registration of the trade marks showed malicious intent. Afterwards Jordan was reported as stating that “nothing is more important than protecting your own name”.