BEYONCÉ’S “PRETTY HURTS” ELEVENPARIS
October 12, 2015
When you read Beyoncé’s (et. al.) complaint against ELEVENPARIS, you might hear the tunes of “Pretty Hurts” playing in your head. It is a hard, cold world for the pretty and famous, and this trademark infringement complaint is just a snippet of that world. Eleven LLC is a French limited liability company doing business as ElevenParis whose actions are at the heart of this complaint.
On October 6, 2015, Beyoncé and Beyoncé’s holding company--BGK Holdings, Kanyé West, Kanye West’s Holding Company—Mascotte, Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty, Sean “Jay-Z” Carter, and a host of other of A-listers filed a complaint against ElevenParis alleging violation of privacy, violation of rights to publicity, unfair competition section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. section 1114(1), trademark infringement under section 32(1) of the Lanham Act and the list goes on. This complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The above allegations arose from ElevenParis’s use of the images and likeness of each artist on its apparel and accessories including but not limited to t-shirts, phone cases, and tanks. According to Fashion Law blog, ElevenParis sold shirts that donned the phrases “Kanye is my Homie,” which was, before this complaint, a part of its Capsule Family collection. ElevenParis also used hangtags slugged “Cayonce” on items that bore Beyonce’s pretty face and music lyrics. Parody is a typical defense against trademark infringements. But is that present here, given the “Cayoncé” hangtags? Probably not.
Of the 58 claims against ElevenParis, Beyoncé claims breach of contract. Apparently, as deduced from the complaint, Beyoncé and ElevenParis had a contractual agreement, and ElevenParis’s undertakings are alleged as a direct violation of that agreement. This claim is vaguely pleaded and does not provide much detail of ElevenParis’s actions that caused this violation. Will this claim survive a motion to dismiss?
As reported on October 9, 2015, ElevenParis’s retail store, which is located on 6 Prince Street, New York, New York, is still offering these items for sale despite the countless cease and desist letters the company has received. Checking ElevenParis’s website, the online store still offers a “Flawless” t-shirt that is reminiscent of Beyonce’s “Flawless” single that was released December 13, 2013.
Furthermore, ElevenParis has also created a shirt with the Notorious BIG rapper emblazoned across the front of it. This image has also been used for past album covers and for the front page of Rolling Stone. At this time, there is no claim concerning this image.
By: Denise Gregory, Associate Editor of Art, Publishing, Music, and Fashion
As published on Charlotte School of Law IP Journal