A few days back, Justin Bieber’s 25-year-old wife Hailey Bieber, was propagating the philosophy behind her newly launched skincare brand “Rhode”, a name kept after her middle name to carry on the family’s legacy. Now, the American model has been sued for trademark infringement by a clothing brand which goes by the same name. Read on to learn more about the newly filed case.
Harming a Minority Co-Owned Business…
Hailey Rhode Bieber’s skincare brand “Rhode” which launched on June 15 and was extensively promoted by husband Justin Bieber and friends like beauty entrepreneur Kylie Jenner on social media, is being sued by the clothing brand “Rhode”. which was founded in 2014 by Purna Khatu and Phoebe Vickers.
The fashion label Rhode, which is carried by retailers like Bergdorf Goodman and Net-a-Porter, has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit stating that s Bieber’s unauthorised use of the trademarked “Rhode,” which is also her middle name, represents a “textbook case of reverse confusion in which a massive junior trademark user threatens to trample a smaller senior user’s mark.”
Purna Khatu and Vickers issued a joint statement saying: ”We didn’t want to file this lawsuit, but we had to in order to protect our business. While a global brand we are still a young and global company, and we cannot overcome a celebrity with Hailey’s following using our company’s name to sell related products.”
The court document stated that Biber and her companies attempted to purchase the Rhode trademark for clothing in 2018 but Khatu and Vickers denied selling their brand. In Rhode’s court filings, it pointed to evidence of confusion among consumers on Instagram, who was tagging the wrong Rhode in photos.
Launched in 2014, Rhode offers colourful printed dresses and separates loved by celebrities like Mindy Kaling and Kelly Clarkson. The lawsuit states that “the magnitude of Bieber’s following and the virality of her marketing will cause immediate, ongoing and irreparable harm to the Rhode brand.”
Well, Lisa Simpson, the lead litigation counsel to Rhode and Rhode and partner at Orrick Herrington and SutCliffe LLP, who is representing the Rhode fashion brand, cleared the law by stating:
“You can’t create this kind of brand confusion just because you want to use your name. What Ms Bieber is doing is harming a minority co-owned business that two women have painstakingly built into a growing global brand.” Now, if we go by the law, that does make a lot of sense.
The two business owners are now urging the court to restrain Bieber from using the Rhode name to avoid any confusion between their brands. In their statement, Khatu and Vickers also pointed to overlap and an excess of collaboration in the larger beauty and fashion market. However, “Rhode Skin” did not immediately reply to a request for comment.”
Is Hailey Liable for Trademark Infringement?
Before answering this question, let us rewind to 2019 and 2020 when Hailey Bieber filed for various trademarks as she planned her decision to step into the beauty world. The BareMinerals ambassador initially tried to secure the name “Bieber Beauty” but this application was rejected due to possible confusion with previous marks registered by her husband, Justin Bieber.
Alexandra Robers, an associate professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, shed some light on the law by stating, “The reason this might feel strange is that there actually is a connection between Hailey Bieber and Justin Bieber. If the marks coexisting leads consumers to think the brands are associated, they’re not exactly wrong.”
Despite fighting the decision, Bieber ultimately dropped it and chose to use her middle name, Rhode. Well, in the current situation one thing is clear. Hailey’s skincare brand “Rhode” is creating confusion which is ultimately causing financial harm to the Rhode clothing brand launched way back in 2014.
Khatu and Vickers said that they “admire Hailey,” noting that “she has worked hard and earned the ability to create her own skin-care line.” “We don’t want to sue Hailey; we want to celebrate her,” they added. “As fellow women entrepreneurs, we wish her every success.”
However, the design duo also agitated that Bieber should have chosen a different name for her company. They explained, “Hailey could choose any brand for her skin-care line,” they explained. “We have only the brand name ‘RHODE’ that we’ve built. That’s why we didn’t sell her our brand when she asked four years ago, and why we ask her now to change her skin-care line’s brand. Her using our brand is hurting our company, our employees, our customers, and our partners.”
Bieber previously narrated on The Kelly Clarkson Show that their ethos at Rhode is “One of Everything Really Good” and that’s the philosophy that not only she follows in beauty and skincare but also in “curating” her wardrobe. She also gave an example by saying, like that one really good jeans you like going back to, that one really good jacket you like going back to, it’s the same with skincare.
The first “drop,” as Bieber describes her products from her new skincare brand, consists of three products she considers staples: Peptide Glazing Fluid, a hydrating serum-gel hybrid, plus Barrier Restore Cream and Peptide Lip Treatment, which are both exactly what they sound like.
She also revealed that Rhode is her middle name and she always dreamt of having a brand name that was named after Rhode, which is her family name. Well, no matter how clear her intentions are and no matter how effective her skincare brand is, it appears like she is in some legal trouble here. What do you think?