Rhode, the fashion brand co-founded by Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers in 2014, is taking legal action against Hailey Bieber and her skin care line, also Rhode, over its name.
Rhode-NYC, LLC filed a preliminary injunction in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday against Bieber and her companies, citing trademark infringement and unfair competition. (Bieber, Rhodedeodato Corp. and HRBeauty LLC are listed as defendants.) News of the lawsuit was first reported by TMZ.
According to the complaint, Rhode, the fashion brand, has three registered trademarks — one for clothing; one for handbags; and one for textiles, children's and women's clothing, hair accessories, dolls, puzzles and holiday ornaments. In the filing, the plaintiffs allege that Bieber and her companies tried to buy the clothing trademark from Khatau and Vickers in late 2018, but they said no; and that the fashion brand has been in touch with the defendants' legal counsel since. (The Wall Street Journal reports that though Bieber's company submitted an application to trademark Rhode at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May, it hasn't been assigned for review.)
Rhode, the fashion brand, also argues that, since the launch of Bieber's beauty line, there's been confusion in the market between the two companies, "as consumers encounter dueling Instagram handles and websites with 'Rhode' in the name and wonder if Rhode's products are in fact Bieber's, or Rhode has itself launched a skincare line with an influencer," per the complaint.
In a joint statement released to the press on Tuesday, Khatau and Vickers said they "were forced to file a lawsuit against Hailey Bieber and her skin-care line... in order to protect our business."
"While a global brand, we are still a young and growing company, and we cannot overcome a celebrity with Hailey's following using our company's name to sell related products," the statement reads. "We admire Hailey. She has worked hard and earned the ability to create her own skin care line. We don't want to sue Hailey; we want to celebrate her. As fellow women entrepreneurs, we wish her every success. Hailey has hard-earned star power and influence. She could choose any brand for her company. We have only the brand 'RHODE' that we've built. That is why we ask her to change the brand of her new skin-care line. It clearly means a lot to her, but 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."
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe's Lisa T. Simpson, who's representing the plaintiff, also issued a statement on the matter, calling it "an unfortunate circumstance."
"We, of course, understand that Hailey wants to use her middle name for her brand, but 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. "What Ms. Beiber is doing is harming a minority co-owned business that two women have painstakingly built into a growing, global brand."
Fashionista has reached out to Rhode, the beauty brand, for comment, and will update this story when we hear back.
Update, July 25: TMZ reported on July 22 that a judge had denied fashion brand Rhode's motion for a preliminary injunction against Hailey Bieber's Rhode beauty line.
According to E! News, an emergency letter motion had been filed as Bieber prepared to release a promotional documentary about the making of her skin care line, titled "The Making of Rhode." But the judge sided with Bieber on this matter. Michael Rhodes, her lawyer, told E!: "We are pleased with the court's thorough order denying plaintiff's motion to preliminarily enjoin Hailey's new company and skincare line."
A spokesperson for Rhode, the fashion brand, told TMZ: "Our lawsuit continues. [The] court ruling is simply a decision by the judge not to prohibit Hailey Bieber's skin-care line from using our brand name while litigation proceeds, deferring the ruling until we have the opportunity to gather more evidence. It is exceedingly rare for a judge to issue the preliminary order we sought, and so we expected this outcome. We remain confident that we will win at trial."