One week after launching her skincare line Rhode – three products, including a serum, moisturiser, and lip balms with a wider range to come – Hailey Bieber is being sued for trademark infringement.
Bieber named her first company after the middle name she shares with both her mother and grandmother, telling Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show that she’d always wanted to use ‘Rhode’ for a business and that the more she thought about it, the more she realised it was perfect for skincare, something her mum taught her so much about from a young age.
But, unfortunately, the name is already in use by a 9-year-old fashion company, RHODE, which is sold in the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and has previously been worn by the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna.
RHODE’s co-founders Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers have now filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Bieber in New York City over the name, saying upon Bieber launching her line, RHODE immediately began to see “confusion in the marketplace,” which they say has already hurt their brand, per PEOPLE.
In the filing, Khatau says she and Vickers launched the company in May 2013 and have since “dedicated ourselves to growing and nurturing the RHODE brand through much personal sacrifice and hardship.” Khatau and Vickers own the RHODE trademark for several common clothing items and accessories. They’ve also filed applications to expand to other areas like household items and are considering expanding to makeup and skincare, per Khatau’s declaration.
The lawsuit alleges Instagram first promised the @rhode handle to the designers since it was “dormant per Instagram policy”, but later backtracked, “deciding to allow Ms. Bieber to use it even though it had no posts until June 8, 2022.”
Furthermore, the co-founders said Bieber is aware of their company and attempted to buy the rights to the name from them four years ago, but they declined. “Unfortunately, that Hailey is currently focusing on skin care while we focus on fashion has not been preventing brand confusion, and it won’t in the future,” said Vickers and Khatau. “We’re both part of a larger beauty market in which fashion and cosmetics closely overlap and often collaborate.”
“Hailey has stated that she wants to pursue a clothing line, and she even applied for ‘rhode’ as a trademark for clothing,” they added. “We welcome competition – we just don’t want competitors using our name.” In a further Instagram statement, @shoprhode wrote, “We don’t want to sue Hailey; we want to celebrate her. As fellow women entrepreneurs, we wish her every success. Hailey could choose any brand for her skin-care line. We have only the brand name “RHODE” that we’ve built.”
According to the statement, the founders are asking Bieber to change the brand name to clear up any confusion. “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,” they wrote. “What Ms. Bieber is doing is harming a minority co-owned business that two women have painstakingly built into a growing, global brand.”