- Hailey Bieber’s skin-care line Rhode is being sued for trademark infringement by a fashion brand.
- Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, cofounders of fashion company Rhode, took legal action on Tuesday.
- Their legal rep says Bieber tried to acquire the trademark in 2018 but Khatau and Vickers refused.
Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin) is being sued for trademark infringement over her new skin-care brand, Rhode.
A fashion brand with the same name as Bieber’s skin-care line filed a legal memorandum on Tuesday as it seeks a preliminary injunction against the 25-year-old model.
The document obtained by Insider and filed on behalf of Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, the fashion company’s cofounders, claims Bieber’s brand detracts attention from their business and creates “consumer confusion.” The fashion brand’s lawsuit is seeking for Bieber’s company to stop using the Rhode name to avoid “irreparable harm” to their business.
Representatives for Bieber and her Rhode skin-care brand did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Rhode, the fashion brand, launched in 2013 and sells colorful dresses and loungewear. The company has become popular among celebrities such as Mindy Kaling and Lupita Nyong’o, according to the legal memo. Khatau and Vickers took the company from $100,000 in sales during its first year to an expected $14.5 million in projected sales for 2022, according to the same document. Bieber’s skin-care brand launched this year on June 15 and takes its name from her middle name, Rhode.
“Without the law’s intervention, there is no suspense in how these colliding stories end: The RHODE brand Khatau and Vickers built gets swamped, washed under by a famous superstar who does not much care that the name she prefers for her beauty products is already being used by two other women entrepreneurs,” the memo reads.
“Bieber’s immense name recognition, media presence, and following will overwhelm the goodwill and reputation Rhode’s founders worked so hard to generate,” it goes on to say, adding that “confusion is already rampant” on social media. According to the memo, some social-media users have mistaken the fashion brand for Bieber’s skin-care line and tagged the wrong Instagram accounts — using Bieber’s company’s @rhode instead of the fashion brand’s @shoprhode — in posts. The memo adds that before Bieber’s Rhode launched, social-media platforms offered the skin-care brand priority by granting it the verified @rhode handle, which Khatau and Vickers believe will be favored over their brand by social-media algorithms.
The document also references Bieber’s status as one of “the most recognizable young celebrities on the planet,” and points to her 45 million Instagram followers. It adds that, in addition to skin-care products, “Bieber has indicated that ‘rhode’-branded clothing is next, and her fans of Ella are already talking about it on social media.”
In a statement shared by the fashion brand Rhode on Instagram on Tuesday, Khatau and Vickers said they were “forced” to take legal action against the model.
Khatau and Vickers’ statement read: “Nine years ago, we quit our jobs and founded Rhode out of our apartment, creating a fashion company from nothing. We’re two women entrepreneurs who met in college, built the RHODE brand, and put years of hard work into our minority co-owned company.”
“We didn’t want to file this lawsuit, but we had to in order to protect our business,” the statement continued, adding that they feel “confident” about the outcome of the lawsuit and hope Bieber will “understand the harm we’ re sure she never meant to cause.”
The fashion brand’s legal representatives told Insider in a statement that Bieber tried to acquire the trademark for Rhode in 2018and said that when the design partners refused her request the model went ahead with launching the beauty brand.
“We, of course, understand that Hailey wants to use her middle name for her brand, but the law on this is clear: you can’t create this kind of brand confusion just because you want to use your name,” Lisa T. Simpson, lead litigation counsel to the fashion brand, said in the statement.
“What Ms. Bieber is doing is harming a minority co-owned business that two women have painstakingly built into a growing, global brand,” Simpson added.