Kim Kardashian Sues Old Navy in Right of Publicity Claim

By Robyn Hagan Cain on July 26, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Kim Kardashian, Old Navy; two names you might never have thought to find in the same sentence, until now. Ms. Kardashian filed a right of publicity lawsuit against Old Navy and its parent company, Gap, Inc., in Los Angeles federal court last week in response to the Old Navy advertisement that featured a Kim Kardashian look-alike.

The Kardashian lawsuit claims that Old Navy's advertising campaign was "purposefully designed and intended to confuse, to cause mistake, and to deceive the public" into believing the reality TV diva was appearing in the commercials, reports The Los Angeles Times. Damages in the suit are estimated between $15 million and $20 million, a surprising amount given that it would equal 23 to 30 percent of the $65 million that the Kardashian family collectively earned in 2010.

The Kim Kardashian suit against Old Navy is not the only time celebrities of any stripe have turned to the courts to stop imposter ads. The Hollywood Reporter lists other famous women who have sued to protect their rights of publicity:

  • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis won an injunction preventing Christian Dior from featuring a look-alike in a print advertisement.
  • Bette Midler sued Ford Motors in the 1980s for using a sound-alike to sing in a Ford television commercial after Midler refused to sing in the ad.
  • Wheel of Fortune's Vanna White won a 1990s lawsuit against Samsung Electronics after the company aired a commercial featuring a look-alike robot sporting a blonde wig.
  • Lindsay Lohan sued to protect her monopoly on alcoholism after eTrade included a "milkaholic" baby named Lindsay in its advertising campaign.

Kardashian, who is famous for reasons many cannot comprehend, argues that the advertisement violated her publicity rights, and that the ads may lead consumers to believe she's endorsing the Old Navy's products. Endorsement deals are big business for Kardashian because consumers, again for reasons even we cannot comprehend, want to buy what the Kardashians are selling.

Irony abounds in Kim Kardashian Old Navy knock-off litigation, considering that Kardashian previously defended herself against accusations of copying designer items for her self-branded merchandise saying, "the clothes you see in the chain stores at your mall are all inspired by designer, runway fashion!!!" Perhaps Old Navy can prevail in this lawsuit by claiming that the actress in its commercial was not a Kim Kardashian-kopy, but merely "inspired" by her.

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