Kardashian Beauty may never escape legal trouble.
Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian haven’t signed off on Kardashian Beauty’s new five-item Fierce collection and are asking the U.S. District Central Court of California to stop the products from selling. In a complaint filed Wednesday, the famous sisters accuse Hillair Capital Management, principal investor in licensee Haven Beauty, and its managing members Neal Kaufman and Sean McAvoy of trademark infringement by using their likenesses without their permission on the merchandise and in an app.
“The defendants launched the Fierce line that had been specifically disapproved by the Kardashians. …As such, Hillair, Kaufman, and McAvoy are all a moving, active and conscious force behind the trademark infringement,” reads the complaint, which reveals the Kardashians sent a notice to immediately terminate their license agreement for Kardashian Beauty on July 8, mere hours before Haven Beauty released the Fierce collection on kbeauty.com.
Kardashian Beauty has kept lawyers busy. In March, Hillair filed a lawsuit against the Kardashians for failing to support the brand and pursued damages up to $180 million. The suit was subsequently sent to arbitration, and its legal proceedings were stayed. Prior to that suit, previous licensee Boldface, which was taken over nearly two years ago by Hillair in receivership, was entangled in a legal battle over the original name of the brand, Khroma Beauty.
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The latest complaint details that Kris Jenner, Kim, Khloe and Kourtney’s manager and their mother, and Kardashian general counsel Todd Wilson attempted to resolve the issues plaguing Kardashian Beauty in the hopes of saving the brand from being destroyed by litigation, but Hillair, Kaufman and McAvoy have withdrawn from discussions exploring resolutions. It also reports Hillair and Haven haven’t paid the Kardashians royalties despite demands from the Kardashians that the parties pay up, and refuse to make royalty payments until the Kardashians compensate them for damages they sought in their lawsuit.
Communications between Wilson and Haven Beauty chief financial officer Jeanene Morgan included in the complaint illustrate the difficulty of moving forward with Kardashian Beauty under the current fraught circumstances. Morgan reached out to Wilson in May about sending the Kardashians products for approval, and Wilson responded the Kardashians “will not approve anything, or consider approving anything until Haven/Hillair is no longer in breach of its obligations under contract.” After the communication, Kardashian Beauty proceeded with the Fierce collection and integrated the collection into the YouCam app for virtual makeup try-on and purchasing.
It’s unclear how the legal wrangling will affect Kardashian Beauty. Although they’ve faced various setbacks over the years, the Kardashians continue to be cash machines. The mobile game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, for instance, has been Glu Mobile’s most successful property since its launch in 2014, racking up more than 45 million downloads and generating $157.8 million in revenue through March 31.
Haven Beauty upgraded Kardashian Beauty’s packaging substantially with the Fierce collection and brought in some heavy beauty hitters to do so. According to Erin Dwyer, senior vice president of global e-commerce and social at Haven Beauty, who spoke to WWD about the collection at Beautycon in Los Angeles last week, Annette Falso, a beauty industry veteran with experience at Revlon and Chanel, worked on the products as did former Gurwitch Products vice president Antonello Patella. The Fierce collection is expected to roll out to Ulta Beauty next month.