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From her infamous backseat selfie taken on the way to drop her sister Khloe at jail to her book of selfies, "Selfish," Kim Kardashian has been very closely tied to the selfie since long before the Oxford Dictionaries named it the Word of the Year in 2013. Kardashian even tethered herself to selfies in a business capacity when she inked a deal with LED-light smartphone case company LuMee in January 2016.
Her involvement in LuMee — which launched its first case in 2014 — produced instantly meteoric results: The brand's founder Allan Shoemake told Fashionista in June that the first time Kardashian promoted the case, LuMee doubled its sales from all of 2015 in just one month. "She certainly moves the needle," said Shoemake at the time.
She certainly does — but now, one of LuMee's competitors is slapping Kardashian with a $100 million patent infringement lawsuit over her LuMee endorsement for that very reason.
On Monday, a man named Hooshmand Harooni filed a $100 million civil action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against Kardashian's corporation Kimisaprincess Inc. In court documents obtained by Fashionista, Harooni claims that LuMee copied a design for a "portable LED lighting solution integrated with a protective phone case" that he patented in 2013 and soon after licensed to cell phone cover company SnapLight. According to BBC, Harooni also alleges that "Snaplight's profits have suffered as a result of the LuMee case and Kardashian's promotion of it."
The court filings detail similarities between Harooni's original patented product and LuMee's cases, which range from the ring of recessed LED lights to an embedded electronic circuitry with a portable power source.
In a statement published by BBC, SnapLight's founder Bardia Rahim said that LuMee "created doubt in our technological and operational integrity," adding: "It's illegal to try and monopolize the market, but more than that, it's un-American to do it when you're being deceptive and unethical the entire time."
A representative for Kardashian responded: "The patent lawsuit filed by SnapLight has no merit and is just another attempted shakedown. Kim has done absolutely nothing wrong."
We'll just have to wait and see whether the courts agree.
UPDATE, Aug. 1, 1:03 p.m.: LuMee issued the following statement to Fashionista:
LuMee was disappointed to learn about the lawsuit filed against Kim Kardashian West by Snaplight, LLC, alleging patent infringement with regard to her involvement with LuMee. The lawsuit has no merit and Kim has done nothing wrong. LuMee is an innovator of illuminated cell phone cases and was the first to market. Between its patents, copyrights and trademarks, LuMee has developed substantial intellectual property rights surrounding its product line. LuMee is currently asserting patent infringement against Snaplight in the District of Delaware (Case No. 16-cv-1029).