Model Hailey Bieber has been charged with infringing on numerous trademarks in regard to her recently launched Rhode skincare line. According to People, Rhode, a 9-year-old fashion firm that uses the same name as her skincare line, sued Hailey on Tuesday.
Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, the co-founders of the apparel company, filed a lawsuit against the model in the Southern District of New York’s federal court, alleging that she is confusing the market by promoting a skincare line under the Rhode brand.
The company was founded in May 2013 by Khatau and Vickers, according to the filing, and they have “committed themselves to growing and nurturing the RHODE brand through tremendous personal sacrifice and struggle” since then. It is currently regarded as a trustworthy brand, available in upscale retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, and favored by stars like Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Mindy Kaling. According to the lawsuit, RHODE is anticipated to earn $14.5 million this year.
Several popular apparel and accessory items have the RHODE trademark, which is owned by Khatau and Vickers. They’ve also filed applications to expand to other areas like household items and are considering expanding to makeup and skincare, per Khatau’s declaration.
Bieber launched her Rhode skincare line earlier this month, and Khatau says she and Vickers immediately began to see “confusion in the marketplace,” which has already hurt their brand.
According to the lawsuit, Instagram initially promised the designers @Rhode handle since it was “dormant per Instagram policy,” but after making that commitment, Instagram chose to let Ms. Bieber use it even though it had no postings until June 8, 2022.”The filing also notes a joint Instagram post with Bieber’s personal account (followed by more than 45 million users), which garnered more than 600,000 likes at the time of the filing.
Justin Bieber, 28, has also promoted his wife’s brand on his Instagram, where he has 243 million followers. According to court filings, his post received more than 1 million likes. The lawsuit adds that people have also tagged Hailey’s @rhode Instagram instead of the plaintiffs’ official @shoprhode account when sharing photos of celebrities wearing their clothing line.
“We have real concerns about the future,” Khatau says in the lawsuit. “This brand has been the result of years of blood, sweat, and tears. I find it sad that a businesswoman that we have long admired is attempting to stifle what we have accomplished.”
Vickers states in her own declaration that Hailey previously expressed her desire for Rhode to develop into a lifestyle brand, with Hailey purportedly saying, “Clothes will come,” in response to a TikTok fan who inquired as to whether she would introduce a “rhode” clothing line.
Vickers and Khatau asked the court for a preliminary injunction ordering Hailey to stop using the name “rhode” for her brand, per documents. The duo also requested that she rename her skincare business to avoid future misunderstanding, according to a statement provided to PEOPLE.
“The brand Rhode is everything we have worked hard to achieve, and her using our name is hurting our company, our employees, our customers, and our partners,” they said in the statement. The co-founders claimed Hailey tried to purchase the name’s rights from them four years ago, but they turned her down. Sadly, the fact that Hailey is now concentrating on skin care while Vickers and Khatau are concentrating on fashion hasn’t prevented brand confusion and it won’t in the future, according to Vickers and Khatau. “Fashion and cosmetics closely converge here, and we frequently work together as part of a bigger beauty market.”
“Hailey has stated that she wants to pursue a clothing line, and she even applied for ‘rhode’ as a trademark for clothing,” they added. We don’t want competitors using our name, but we do encourage competition.
The scenario is “unfortunate” according to Lisa T. Simpson, the apparel company’s attorney, in a separate statement.
The law on this is clear: you can’t create this kind of brand confusion just because you want to use your name, she said. “We, of course, understand that Hailey wants to use her middle name for her brand,” she added. “Ms. Bieber is damaging a minority co-owned business that two women have painstakingly developed into a growing, global brand,” says the author. Rhode and a representative for Hailey did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.