Kim Kardashian is in a new legal dispute with a small, Black woman-owned business over her new skincare line. She has attempted to brand the new products, which launched earlier in June, under the names SKKN and SKKN by Kim — but the Brooklyn-based Beauty Concepts claims that the name is being stolen from them. They’ve alleged in a lawsuit that the name SKKN is a trademark infringement on their salon services name “SKKN+.”
Beauty Concepts’ founder, Cydnie Lunsfurd, first sent a cease and desist letter to Kim’s corporation, Kimsaprincess, over a year ago when both companies went to trademark the name. Lunsfurd, who has used the name since 2018, beat Kardashian to the trademark office by two days. Kim’s lawyer Michael G. Rhodes told TMZ at the time, “Our hat is off to Ms. Lunsford,” but “the question at hand is one of trademark law and we’ve not done anything deserving of legal action by her.” He added that he was “hopeful that we can smooth things over once both sides speak.”
Apparently, a copasetic agreement was not reachable, because Beauty Concepts has now filed suit. The brand alleges that Kim’s new line is confusing customers, and emphasizes the fact that they’re a small, WOC-owned business that survived the pandemic to open a brick-and-mortar store. Per TMZ though, Rhodes is calling the lawsuit a “shakedown effort.”
The attorney told the site, “We applaud Ms. Lunsford for being a small business owner and following her dreams. But that doesn’t give her the right to wrongfully claim that we’ve done something wrong. In its letter, Beauty Concepts claimed to own rights to a logo made up of SKKN+, and had just filed for trademark protection for that logo. The business was a one-person shop offering facials from a single Brooklyn location. The salon had no signage and was by appointment only. To our knowledge, Beauty Concepts sold no products under the SKKN+ name.
“Beauty Concepts asked that we drop the SKKN name. Of course, we said no,” he continued. “Beauty Concepts then challenged Ms. Kardashian’s trademark applications at the USPTO. Unsurprisingly, the USPTO rejected Beauty Concepts’ own SKKN+ mark saying that ‘skkn’ just means ‘skin.’ Undaunted, Beauty Concepts then tried to make its business seem more than it was — it leased a new storefront, changed its website, etc.” He added, “running a small esthetician business in Brooklyn does not give it the right to shut down a global skincare line.”
Rhodes is framing the suit as a money grab by Lunsfurd, and showed no signs of backing down. The legal battle could set an interesting precedent on if cultural behemoths like Kardashian can bulldoze small businesses or not.