The ever popular reality TV star and socialite Kim Kardashian has sued the retail chain Old Navy after they used a look-alike model in their advertisements to capitalize on Kardashian’s fame.
Kardashian’s attorneys say that the lawsuit against Old Navy was necessary because what they were doing was intentional. Old Navy launched their nationwide sales campaign in February with a model that had an uncanny resemblance to Ms. Kardashian.
Kardashian is concerned that the Old Navy ads will cause confusion and have already caused confusion in the minds of her fans who now associate her with a retail clothing campaign. Kardashian filed the lawsuit through the US District Court for the Central District of California against Gap Inc., who owns Old Navy.
The look-alike model in question was Melissa Molinaro of Canada, featured in the Old Navy advertisements specifically because of her Kardashian-like resemblance. However, Molinaro wasn’t specifically named in the lawsuit. The Old Navy advertisements show Molinaro getting a manicure, taking a walk with her dog, and dancing in the checkout line at the supermarket.
Kardashian’s lawsuit alleges a violation of the California right of publicity law and unfair competition against her celebrity status. Kardashian hopes to bar both Gap and Old Navy from using any images resembling her in their advertisements, and she’ll also be seeking compensation for punitive damages.
Apparently, Kim Kardashian isn’t the only one who’s had a look-alike advertising issue on her hands. Bette Midler sued Ford Motors years ago for using a sound-like voice in one of their TV commercials advertising their vehicles. Vanna White won a case against Samsung because they used a Vanna look-alike in a popular TV ad. Of course, the Vanna look-alike in question was actually a robot wearing a blonde wig that happened to be hosting a game show set in the future. But White believed that her identity had been misrepresented and would confuse her fans into thinking that she endorsed Samsung Electronics.
Will Kardashian win her suit? Only time will tell whether the courts will rule in favor of Kardashian in her copycat advertising lawsuit, and whether or not Kardashian’s lawyers will be able to prove that Old Navy intentionally created ads using Kardashian’s notorious likeness.
Author: Bethany Ramos works at home full time as a freelance writer, and she also co-owns her own e-commerce website, The Coffee Bump.