Kim Kardashian has filed a lawsuit against an Alabama doctor over the use of her name and likeness in commercial advertising without her permission.
As fans of the E! star will remember, Kim got what’s known as a “vampire facial” during a 2013 episode of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami. Five years later, Kim took to her website to share that she regrets getting the facial and will “never” do it again, explaining it was “really rough and painful” for her. Now, Kim is suing Charles Runels and Cellular Medicine Association for using her name and photos without her permission in order to promote their procedures, similar to the vampire facial.
The complaint, filed by Kim’s attorneys, is for copyright infringement, infringement of registered mark, false association, violation of the right of publicity and California common law trademark infringement.
“Defendant Charles Runels is a doctor in Alabama. In characteristically self-promoting fashion, he describes himself alternatively as the ‘Orgasm Doctor’ and the ‘Calvin Klein of medicine,'” the court documents state. “To that end, while he appears to maintain a small practice in Alabama, most of his time is spent touting the various cosmetic procedures he has purported to trademark—including, as relevant here, the Vampire Facial.”
The docs note that while Kim and Kourtney Kardashian did “get” a vampire facial, it was years ago and they had “certainly never licensed their name in connection with the procedure.”
“Upon further investigation, Ms. Kardashian was horrified to discover that her name and likeness were plastered all over Runels’ website (www.vampirefacial.com),” the docs continue. “Just below a post disclaiming any association with the Vampire Facial provider from which patients had contracted HIV is a photo captioned, ‘Bar [Refaeli] & Kim Receive the Vampire Facial® Procedure.'”
The docs also provide evidence of Kim’s photos on the website.
Amy Sussman/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank
“When Ms. Kardashian reached out to Runels and his trademark attorney to demand that he cease using her name and likeness without her consent, he not only refused to take down the pictures of her and references to her; he had the temerity to demand that she pay him,” the docs state. “The Defendants’ use of Ms. Kardashian’s name and likeness is not, and never has been, authorized. The Defendants have never sought Ms. Kardashian’s permission to use her as a ‘face’ for their products and services, and Ms. Kardashian has never given such permission.”
The docs also note, “Ms. Kardashian’s actual endorsement for a nationwide campaign such as this would command a fee well into eight figures (assuming she would even agree to do such a campaign, which she most assuredly would not).”
In response, the doctor has taken to his website to post a blog about the lawsuit. He also tells E! News, “The name Vampire Facial, that is my intellectual property.” Dr. Runels also says that he owns the name and Kim used it on the TV show without his permission.
He shares, “I feel like this is someone shaking down some little doctor for something that is public knowledge.”
E! News has reached out to Kim’s rep for comment.
Watch the season finale of Keeping Up With the Kardashians Sunday at 9 p.m., only on E!
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