In July 2011, Old Navy aired a music video-style advertisement featuring actress Melissa Molinaro singing and dancing homage to Old Navy “Super Cuties” brand jeans. Ms. Molinaro happens to have some resemblance to celebrity Kim Kardashian, whose signature “brand” characteristic is her statuesque figure, and especially her ample and shapely buttocks. Along with sisters Khloe and Kourtney, Kim relentlessly builds her brand by licensing the use of her name on a variety of products. While it may be that Kim has abilities, no traditional evidence of talent – acting, singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments – is associated with her cheeky personal brand.
Based on the ad featuring Molinaro, Kardashian sued Old Navy claiming that the company infringed her brand under both California and U.S. law, where celebrities are considered to have a trademark or brand in their image, likeness and other uniquely identifying characteristics. In legal speak, Kardashian asserts that Old Navy’s featuring of Ms. Molinaro is causing consumers to mistakenly identify Molinaro as Kardashian, and that the same consumers will be deceived into believing that Kardashian is endorsing Old Navy’s jeans.
Kim’s case doesn’t have a leg to stand on, or more to the point, a derriere to sit on. Any consumer watching Molinaro strut her stuff for Super Cuties will see instantly that Molinaro’s buttocks, while undeniably attractive, don’t measure up to even half of Kardashian’s in breadth, depth, or curvature. There is no possibility of confusing Molinaro with Kardashian based on viewing Molinaro’s “mini” version of the signature feature of Kardashian’s “brand.” In this case, Kim’s butt is likely to be kicked out of court soon.