The saga of SKKN by Kim continues. Kardashian's newly launched beauty brand has been hit with a trademark lawsuit filed by Beauty Concepts LLC, a four-year-old skincare company that operates under the brand name SKKN+.
According to The Fashion Law, the complaint claims that Kardashian's corporate entity Kimsaprincess, Inc. and cosmetics giant Coty, Inc. are liable for trademark infringement, unfair competition, and civil conspiracy under New York law for using the SKKN by Kim mark on goods and services that are "identical to, or highly related to, services offered by Beauty Concepts under [its own] SKKN+ trademark."
A Brooklyn-based skincare boutique that offers facials and body treatments, SKKN+ argues that the similarities between its brand name and SKKN by Kim are likely to cause confusion among consumers, resulting in irreparable damage to the company.
When it learned of Kardashian's plans to trademark SKKN by Kim, SKKN+ allegedly contacted Kimsaprincess and Coty to request that they abandon their use of "SKKN." But the reality TV star and her business partner didn't cease and desist, pushing SKKN+ to initiate an opposition proceeding against the defendants' trademark application in December 2021.
Kardashian's counsel is fighting SKKN+'s claims, asserting that its rights to the "SKKN" mark are "narrowly confined to skin facial services offered out of a single location in Brooklyn, New York."
SKKN+ v. SKKN by Kim closely follows Rhode v. Rhode, a lawsuit involving Hailey Bieber's skincare brand, Rhode, and fashion label Rhode, founded in 2014 by Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers.
The nearly identical cases — filed in quick succession — fuel the already heated debate: are celebrity beauty brands really necessary?
As Business of Fashion pointed out, celebrity brands often strike the public as "cheating." Fame affords a built-in audience, while companies such as SKKN+ and Rhode built their following organically.
There's also the fact that SKKN+ and Rhode are minority-owned (a point that lawyers for both brands made in their cases), raising the tricky politics of appropriation. Kardashian and Bieber's alleged trademark infringement could very well strike the public as stealing from business owners without millions of followers, a stable of lawyers, and a virtually endless supply of money.
The lawsuits aren't likely to topple the celebrity beauty brand complex, but they might just cast a shadow over it.