The Kardashian/Jenner family go by the philosophy ‘Love us or hate us, but you cannot ignore us!’, a motto they occasionally reaffirm their familial beliefs in sounding paradoxical or sardonic to the person hearing it.The American teen television sensations, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, or the Jenner Sisters, also burgeoning their roles on the reality television show ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ since 2007, were earlier in news for implementing their ‘intellect’ through embracing intellectual property, by applying for registration of trademark on their names around May 2015, in a bid to assert themselves as international stars, a move earlier solicited by famous pop music artist Kylie Minogue.
The Jenner Sisters individually own trademarks for “entertainment in the nature of providing information by means of a global computer network in the fields of entertainment, fashion and pop culture; entertainment services, namely, personal appearances by a celebrity, actress and model.”,[i] They got their trademarks registered, due to their business ventures getting revved up in recent years, owing to their omnipresent lifestyle showcased on their reality television show.
Recently they set the tabloids ablaze by bringing their domain name registration applications to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). They had ostensibly broadcastedwinning their domain name disputes even before filing them at WIPO on their personal account on the social networking giant – Instagram in early July, the post in itself garnering around 2 million likes from fans and in a few days filed their cases, www.kyliejenner.com and www.kendalljenner.com, at the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre, which maintains an online dispute resolution system for handling domain name disputes and trademarks.[ii]Upon procedural investigation by the Registrar, it was found that the domain names had been registered already, surprisingly by two Indians, namely Thevan Thirumalla and Jorly James from Kerala (Respondents).
Upon further verification, the Centre noted that the complaints filed by the Jenner sisters had satisfied all preliminary requirements under Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy and WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy regulated by the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). The said complaints were formally notified to the Respondents by the Centre, in accordance with the said Rules, and appointed Mr. Tony Willoughby, a part-time UK Trademark lawyer, as sole panellist in this matter.
Upon further deliberation, it was found that the Respondents had been using the domain names since 2007, contending further that they were aware about the Jenner sisters when they registered the domain names, having done the same four days after their family reality TV show was broadcasted worldwide, but nevertheless stated that the latter did not have any relevant trademark rights during that time, a contention which was refused by the Panel as amounting to bad faith intention. They further indicated that they had no relations to the disputed domain names which were being used for news, social media and blog websites and information sites for millennials, furthermore being connected to blog websites featuring numerous references to the Jenner Sisters, as well as advertising links to a variety of websites, some of them offering adult material and products, thereby proved that the Respondents had no right or legitimate interests over the domain names in questions and were simply operating it without permission and for personal gain thereby amounting to usage of domain name in bad faith.
Based on the aforementioned observations, which were in consonance with the provisions laid down in Para 4 (a) of the UDRP the panel ordered that the domain names be transferred to its rightful owners, the Jenner sisters. Whether this is domain name/trademark hullabaloo was just another one of the many blitzkrieg campaigns by the Kardashians is something which is yet to be ascertained, but suffices to say that be it the Kardashians, the Jenner’s, or an ordinary human being, it is a welcoming change regarding embracing of Intellectual Property.
[i]US TM (Service Mark) No. 4440696, ‘KYLIE JENNER’, Class 41;US TM (Service Mark) No. 4407580, ‘KENDALL JENNER’ Class 41, respectively.
[ii]Kylie Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Inc. and Whalerock Celebrity Subscription LLC v. Thevan Thirumalla, TVM Names and Kendall Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Inc. and Whalerock Celebrity Subscription LLC v. Jorly James, Cooknames, Case Nos. D2015-1189 and D2015-1190 [consolidated], Administrative Panel Decision,WIPO Arbitration & Media Centre, Available at: http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/search/text.jsp?case=D2015-1190.