Monica Botkier is on a crusade to protect her designs.

This story first appeared in the August 12, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

On Thursday, the designer sent a cease and desist letter to Sears Holdings Corp., the exclusive retailer of Kim, Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian’s handbag line Kardashian Kollection, after Botkier discovered a style from the reality stars’ collection that she contends is nearly identical to a bag from her own.

Sears declined to comment.

On Tuesday, Botkier was flooded with e-mails from friends and fans about a story in the U.K.’s Daily Mail about the similarities between a silhouette from Kardashian Kollection’s fall offerings and the Clyde, one of the original styles the brand launched when Botkier founded the company in 2003.

“In a case like this, it’s upsetting because it’s a trademarked shape for us, and people recognize it by sight. It’s a lot more complicated because it’s hard for independent designers to do anything against mass retailers or megabrands. It really calls attention to what Steven Kolb and the CFDA are really working towards — its not necessarily about sticking on a fake label, you are actually taking someone’s design idea,” Botkier told WWD. “This definitely hurts people in the industry and it makes it more difficult that you can’t protect it by law. The CFDA is working on trying to change these laws and make designs more protected.”

She is adamant about designers legally being able to protect their designs, more boutique brands in particular. Botkier does acknowledge that it’s a unique situation because the Kardashian sisters — who are very much in the public eye — might not even be aware of everything they’re putting their name on.

“All designers deserve the right to design protection and only the creator of an original design should profit from that design. Taking someone’s work and calling it your own is wrong and robs the designer of a rightful return of their investment,” the CFDA’s Kolb said.

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