Why Kim Kardashian is being sued for ‘knockoff’ furniture

Why Kim Kardashian is being sued for ‘knockoff’ furniture

By fijivillage
Saturday 11/05/2024
Kim Kardashian and a design company she worked with are the subjects of a new lawsuit filed by the estate of artist Donald Judd. Christopher Polk/Variety/Getty Images

Kim Kardashian’s oft-divisive interior design aesthetic is under new scrutiny. The estate of minimalist contemporary artist Donald Judd filed a lawsuit against Kardashian this week, claiming the fashion and beauty mogul promoted “cheap knockoffs” of his furniture designs.

The basis of the suit is a 2022 video Kardashian posted to YouTube, in which she gives a guided tour of the offices for her then-brand new makeup company, Skkn by Kim. (The video, which the suit alleged received some 3.7 million views, was seemingly made private following the lawsuit filing.)

While touting her office’s minimalist design, Kardashian specifically praises a sleek, large-scale wooden table with a set of matching chairs that are perfectly sized to slide beneath — creating a piece resembling less a dining table and more a brutalist sculpture.

“These Donald Judd tables are really amazing and totally blend in with the seats,” Kardashian says, moving a chair out to show the camera.

The foundation claims that Clements Design manufactured the copycat versions of Judd’s work for use in the Skkn by Kim office. When Kardashian praised the knockoffs in the video, it gave “the false impression” that the Judd Foundation had lent its trademark and Judd’s “artistic reputation” to Kardashian, the lawsuit states. Judd Foundation v Clements Design An artist and sculptor, Judd was known for his minimalist designs emphasizing clean whole shapes and industrial materials. As they appear in the video, the table and its matching chairs in Kardashian’s office resemble Judd’s famous La Mansana Table and Chair 84 — pieces that have become iconic among furniture designers and collectors since they were first produced in 1982. The Judd Foundation still manufactures and sells these designs, though they come at a cost: the table is priced at $90,000, while the chairs retail for $9,000 each.

But Kardashian’s wares were not authentic pieces, the Judd Foundation wrote in the lawsuit filed Wednesday against both Kardashian and Clements Design, the interior design firm she worked with in designing the Skkn office space. (And even if they were, the foundation “categorically prohibits customers from using purchased Donald Judd furniture for marketing and promotional purposes,” it says in its court filing.)

The foundation is claiming trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition, false advertising and false endorsement of the knockoff items.

“Consumers who watched the video or read the media coverage were misled to believe Ms. Kardashian’s tables and chairs were authentic Donald Judd pieces,” the foundation states in the filing. It is seeking the profits it argues Kardashian and Clements Design made off the use of Judd’s name.

Clements Designs, according to the court filing, said it never claimed the tables and chairs were authentic Judd pieces, and directed the foundation to settle the issue with Kardashian.

In a statement provided to CNN, the design firm said the pieces it produced for Kardashian’s office had “obvious key differences” to Judd’s designs.

“The Judd Foundation’s prior counsel acknowledged these differences and since then, we have not heard from them in over a year, and are now being blindsided with a lawsuit,” Clements Design’s statement read. “Efforts were made to resolve this issue amicably at the time and the Judd Foundation was unwilling to settle on reasonable terms. These claims have absolutely no merit.”

To add further insult, Kardashian’s knockoffs were also, the lawsuit claims, seemingly made from plywood — a material that the Judd Foundation does not authorize.”

“These poor-quality imitations masquerading as authentic Donald Judd tables and chairs harm the Donald Judd brand,” the lawsuit argues. “Consumers will see the cheap knockoffs… and erroneously associate (the) low-grade pieces with the Donald Judd brand,” the lawsuit states.

The foundation claimed it also offered to replace the counterfeit tables and chairs with authentic pieces at a discount if Kardashian issued a retraction and edited the video, the lawsuit claims.

Representatives for Kardashian offered to promote the Judd Foundation in a social media post, which the foundation rejected, and also offered to issue a retraction in the video caption, but not remove the video, the lawsuit claims.

Kardashian did not respond to requests for comment from CNN.

Judd, who died in 1994, was very selective about who was allowed to manufacture and carry his designs, paying particularly close attention to the quality of materials used. Only a few galleries and stores — like the MoMA Design store and the Salon 94 gallery, both in New York — are authorized to sell his furniture.

Source: CNN

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