Hailey Bieber has found herself in the midst of a legal battle over her debut skin-care line, Rhode, just one week after its launch. Bieber titled her line “Rhode” simply as an homage to her middle name, but the star found herself in hot water after she failed to account for or consult the already existing clothing line, RHODE.
Yesterday morning, co-founders of the female and minority owned and operated line, Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, filed a lawsuit against Bieber on the grounds of trademark infringement. Khatau and Vickers founded RHODE in 2014 and in the nine years since its conception the line has gained enough popularity to be worn by countless stars like Hillary Duff and Beyoncé.
Though RHODE has established itself enough to continue to succeed alongside Bieber’s skin-care line, the two founders explained in their preliminary injunction and opening statements that they felt legal action was necessary to protect the history and legacy of their brand. In the introduction to the preliminary injunction, RHODE explains that building their brand from the ground up was profoundly difficult being that the two founders “had no name recognition and no connections, no following and no financing.” The introductory statement emphasizes how the success of the brand in recent years is a testament to the hard work and perseverance it took on behalf of everyone involved with RHODE from the start.
The introduction continues on to point out how unfair it is for RHODE to be threatened by a brand created by a “mega-famous” celebrity who “was just getting started on the runway when Khatau and Vickers started shipping dresses from their apartments.” The factual background of the case outlines how Bieber’s company adopted Rhode’s mark and continued to launch the brand under it despite the Plaintiff’s attempts at resolution which has caused immediate and widespread consumer confusion and on-going harm to the RHODE franchise as a result.
It’s hard to say what lies ahead for Bieber’s debut brand, but RHODE’s reaction sets an important precedent for holding celebrity brands accountable and demanding respect for those who came before them.