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Judge Waxes Cosmetic in Nixing Kardashian Sisters’ Arbitration Bid

The Kardashian sisters were on the losing side of a punny federal appellate court opinion issued Wednesday.

Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian lost their bid to compel arbitration with a makeup company that sued the reality TV stars for cosmetics trademark infringement. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Chief Judge Ed Carnes, known for his colorful legal writing, contoured the decision with cosmetics puns.

« At first blush, the issue appears to require application of Florida’s doctrine of equitable estoppel under which a party to an agreement who relies on it in a dispute with a nonparty can be required by that nonparty to comply with other terms of the agreement, including the arbitration clause, » he wrote. « But there is a wrinkle in this case: the arbitration clause which the nonparty to the agreement is seeking to enforce is explicitly limited to disputes between the parties. »

The Kardashians made a licensing agreement with Boldface Licensing + Branding Inc. to create a makeup line called « Khroma. » The distributor of the unrelated Kroma line of cosmetics, Kroma Makeup EU, was not pleased. Litigation ensued involving Boldface, Kroma EU and the creator of the Kroma trademark, By Lee Tillett Inc.

Kroma Makeup EU ultimately sued Boldface and the Kardashians for trademark infringement in Orlando federal court, where U.S. District Judge Paul Byron denied the Kardashians’ motion to compel Kroma EU to arbitrate.

Carnes, along with U.S. Circuit Judge R. Lanier Anderson and U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg, found the trial court had ruled correctly. The Kardashians were not a party to the arbitration agreement between Kroma EU and Tillett, and therefore the court could not compel Kroma EU to arbitrate with the sisters.

« Like makeup, Florida’s doctrine of equitable estoppel can only cover so much, » Carnes wrote.



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