Kardashian Tries to Corner the Market on C-U-T-E: Brings Suit Against Old Navy for Look-a-Like Model

The star of the hit reality tv show,"Keeping Up with the Kardashians," filed suit against Old Navy in federal court in California claiming that an Old Navy television commercial used a model that looks suspiciously like the reality tv star. The Kardashian complaint alleges that she "has attained an extraordinary level of popularity and fame" and that her "name, likeness, identity and persona have become commercial assets." She contends that Old Navy intentionally used a model that looked so much like her that it would confuse consumers and cause them to think that she endorsed the store's merchandise. Kardashian claims that Old Navy knowingly took steps to confuse consumers by using a storyline in the commercial that is associated with her persona. The commercial introduces a new Old Navy clothing brand "Audio Threadz" through a simulated music video for a song called "Super C-U-T-E" that features the alleged Kardashian imitator shopping and interacting with paparazzi, among other things. Kardashian is seeking a permanent injunction and unspecified damages for unfair competition in violation of the Lanham Act, as well as misappropriation in violation of California's common law right of publicity and California's Civil Code ยง 3344 . There is certainly some precedent for a celebrity getting an injunction against a 'look-a-like' commercial, but Kardashian may face an uphill battle as the model, Melissa Molinaro, is an actress in her own right. Kardashian will have to prove at a minimum that the commercial is likely to cause confusion to viewers. It remains to be seen how this lawsuit will play out. While California's laws governing rights of publicity are well-established, only a handful of federal courts have even addressed whether the Lanham Act may embrace rights of publicity claims, making the approach novel and potentially ground breaking. – James Blackburn, Marianne El Sonbaty, and Jocelyn Wiesner

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