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Kardashian v. Kardashian: Did Kim Copy Kourtney's Look for a Dolce & Gabbana Collaboration?

By Catherine Hodder, Esq. | Last updated on

In this week's episode of The Kardashians on Hulu, Kourtney Kardashian accuses her sister Kim of copying her look from her 2022 Italian wedding for a business opportunity with fashion house Dolce and Gabbana.

Both sisters are business moguls. Kourtney Kardashian owns the lifestyle brand POOSH, which is a nickname for her daughter, Penelope. Kourtney promotes health, beauty, and lifestyle products but not fashion. SKIMS founder Kim Kardashian also owns KKW Beauty, and KKW Fragrance, in addition to her shapewear company.

What is the Issue?

The controversy began when Kourtney Kardashian and Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker, celebrated their wedding in Portofino, Italy, weeks after they wed in Santa Barbara. It was a curated event, with designers Dolce & Gabbana coordinating Kourtney's and her family's wedding outfits. Dolce & Gabbana pulled clothing from their 90's "Madonna" collection in line with Kourtney's aesthetic.

During or after the wedding exhibition, Dolce & Gabbana exchanged emails with Kourtney's sister, Kim, for their own collaboration. Kim told her sister, Kourtney, it would be a business deal under her SKIMS company. However, she ended up doing a private partnership on her own.

Kim said she did not want to copy her sister's wedding looks when she launched her "Ciao Kim" collection at the Milan fashion week in September of 2022, a mere four months after Kourtney's wedding. Interestingly, their mother, Kris Jenner, and sister, Khloe Kardashian, attended the fashion show, but Kourtney was not there.

Kourtney claims Kim copied her wedding style and is upset that Kim used her private event for financial gain. Kim complains that sister Kourtney is just "a hater." But is the hate based on lack of "loyalty," as sister Khloe maintains, or "royalty" since Kourtney was left out of the business deal?

The Kardashian kerfuffle makes for good TV drama but raises some legal questions:

Copyright protection covers original works of authorship fixed in a tangible form. Fashion design generally does not fall into this category. Fashion is typically viewed as a utilitarian item, not a work of art. In 2010, Congress tried to address copyright protection in the Design Piracy Prohibition Act. This act attempted to protect fashion designs for a period of three years. However, this act did not pass.

Still, other intellectual property laws may protect fashion designers. For example, while Lacoste cannot copyright their polo shirt's design, through trademark law, they own the right to use a small alligator applique to denote their brand. And Gor-Tex can use a design patent to protect its unique breathable, waterproof textile.

Does Kourtney "Own" Her Wedding Look?

While Kourtney certainly developed her style for her Italian nuptials, Dolce & Gabbana drew inspiration from an existing collection. As much as she may have consulted D&G in curating her style, the fashion house may claim the designs as their own work product. And since you can't copyright a style, she does not have a claim of infringement.

Can You Protect Your Fashion Brand?

If you are in the fashion industry, it is essential to protect your brand. The first step is to incorporate your business, especially if you want to register your brand with the US Patent and Trademark Office. A legal entity, such as a corporation or LLC, is also beneficial to protect you from business liability.

This isn't the first time the Kardashian celebs clash over business or money, especially if it gets social media buzzing. And it most certainly isn't the last.

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