April 23, 2013 6:10pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Katy Perry Files $6.5 Million Counterclaim Against Hair-Product Company
Pop star Katy Perry has struck back at the hair-styling company that rushed into court April 11 in anticipation of being sued over an endorsement contract.
Two weeks ago, Jemella Group Limited sued Perry's loan-out company, Killer Queen LLC, contending that it had paid the singer $4.5 million under a two-year deal to endorse GHD ("Good Hair Day"). JGL said that no more was owed despite the contention by Perry's agent at CAA that an oral agreement had been reached on an extension of the contract.
It's now Perry's time to respond.
In counterclaims filed in a California federal court Monday, the singer's lawyers say that if there was no deal, JGL had no right to continue to use Perry's image on the GHD website and refer to Perry as the company's "brand ambassador." The company allegedly did so. Her lawyers add that what really happened was that JGL didn't wish to repudiate the deal because an untimely rift with Perry would impede a proposed sale of the company.
Slamming JGL for threatening to defame Perry, the singer's lawyers say in their new legal papers, "Those who wish to do business with a company that does not honor its contractual commitments, yet reaps the benefits of the agreements giving rise to those commitments, would find a perfect business partner in GHD."
To be sure, the original complaint (read here) filed against Perry was just as harsh.
JGL said that in August 2011, it entered into an agreement with Perry, whose hit songs include "California Gurls," "Teenage Dream" and "Firework." There's no dispute among the parties that the two-year agreement had options to renew the contract for further periods of time. Both sides are also in tune that there were discussions about a renewal.
But the plaintiff gives reasons why the deal wasn't extended.
By November 2012, JGL says, it had backed off.
According to its complaint, "The research revealed that Perry had a 'significant decrease in appeal across Europe' and was 'increasingly polarizing' with an 'increase in respondents with negative perceptions in all markets.' Some survey participants suggested that Perry had cheapened the [GHD] brand."
With that in mind, plus Perry's alleged unwillingness to be photographed holding GHD's product or endorse the hair styling on social media, it says that it decided not to extend the contract.
But Perry's counterclaims say that the two sides had already reached a deal by that time.
The singer's lawyers say that an oral agreement was agreed upon on Oct. 10, that GHD chief marketing officer Stuart Spiegel e-mailed the following day to confirm that he "would like to extend Katy on a long term basis" and that he set out the material terms of the deal -- that Perry would be paid $6.5 million to extend the contract by 2 1/2 years.
Ten days later, Perry's agent Christian Carino wrote, "I think we are in good shape. A few minor tweaks." Shortly thereafter, says the counterclaim, the parties discussed and finalized the minor tweaks on the phone.
Perry's new legal papers goes onto say that it was only in February -- "approximately three days after GHD finalized its sale to Lion Capital" -- that Carino was told that GHD wouldn't be honoring the alleged new contract.
Now the singer says that she hasn't been paid $6.5 milliion, but the company has continued to use her name and image nonetheless.
Represented by Marty Singer and Andrew Brettler at Lavely & Singer, Perry looks to put JGL in a bind. She's asserting a violation of her publicity rights as well as breach of oral contract.
JGL is represented by Mark Holscher at Kirkland & Ellis.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @eriqgardner