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Kim Oh No! How a Catchy Branded Wordplay has Kim Kardashian in Trouble

Jun 28, 2019

Image: Kim KardashianNo matter how you feel about her, there is no denying that Kim Kardashian is a pop culture phenomenon and a successful businesswoman. Aside from her highly successful reality television series, she has released a variety of products tied to her name (mobile games, clothing, and cosmetics) all of which have been widely successful.

This week, Kim unveiled her Kimono line which is her “solutionwear” brand for briefs, shorts, and bodysuits, among other undergarments. Naturally, you would think that this line will sell out as soon as it hits the market, right? Not so fast. There is a problem here.

The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that is usually worn for important public holidays, festivals, and formal occasions such as weddings and funerals. Kim is now facing appropriation backlash and is accused of being culturally insensitive. Some find it offensive that she’s using the word kimono in connection with undergarments. 

In fact, as of yesterday, a new hashtag was making the rounds on Twitter - #KimOhNo – and a petition has been started which more than 25000 people have already signed. 

The criticism against Kim escalated this week when people found out that Kim has already filed trademark applications for her Kimono brand. The trademark applications include a wide variety of products such as clothing and apparel and are not just restricted to undergarments. Her trademark applications might act to restrict anyone else from using the word Kimono in relation to clothing and apparel. Kim addressed this issue by stating the following:

“Filing a trademark is a source identifier that will allow me to use the word for my shapewear and intimates line but does not preclude or restrict anyone, in this instance, from making kimonos or using the word kimono in reference to the traditional garment.”

Kim seems intent on standing by her Kimono line despite the appropriation backlash. The product line may fail, but Kim can afford it. That being said, would you risk it?  We can help out in minimizing risks when it comes to branding. 

Contact Sepideh Nassabi for questions about your trademark at snassabi@mindengross.com.

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