Kardashian Sisters Face $10 Million Legal Claim Over Name of Cosmetics Line

Beyond 15 Minutes: 2007
E! Entertainment Television/Photofest

“Keeping Up With the Kardashians” premieres. During its fifth season, it averaged 3.5 million viewers. Season 6 begins taping this year.

Kim Kardashian and her two sisters have audaciously blended reality television stardom and entrepreneurship. Over the years, this sometimes has added up to legal trouble.

The newest development is a $10 million counterclaim that posits that discussions for a product placement on an E! Entertainment special are evidence that Kim, Kourtney and Khloe knowingly infringed the trademark on a cosmetics product line.

In late November, Boldface Licensing + Branding, which licenses the Kardashians' names and likenesses, sued a makeup business owned by Lee Tillett.

Boldface has come out with a product line called "Khroma." Tillett markets a product name called "Kroma."

In response to Tillett's cease-and-desist letter sent in July, Boldface traveled to a California federal court to get a declaratory judgment that the name "Kroma" “consists solely of a descriptive term and lacks any inherent distinctive meaning to the relevant consuming public and therefore is conceptually weak.”

On Wednesday, Tillett responded in federal court, saying that the promotion of Khroma was likely to mislead customers into thinking that Tillett's Kroma is associated with the Kardashian sisters: "The false association is damaging … and threatens to destroy its business."

According to the counterclaims, Boldface has paid the Kardashians an upfront advance of $1 million for licensing rights with guaranteed minimum royalty payments of $4.6 million to $5.2 million, depending on launch dates of various products. As part of the deal, the Kardashians allegedly have some power over the product line and that it was Kim who "proposed" that it be called Khroma.

Tillett, represented by attorney Elliot Gipson, suggests that Kim should have known better. He points to discussions by representatives for himself and TLK Fusion, which allegedly acted as Kardashian's product-placement agent for a show that was being produced by Kim.

"On or about May 2010, representatives for Tillett and TLK Fusion were engaged in discussions regarding the possible product placement of the KROMA cosmetics line on the television reality show special The SPINdustry that was scheduled to air on E! Entertainment Television following an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians."

No deal was ever reached.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner