Kim Kardashian vs Judd Foundation

Copyright Infringement in Kim Kardashian vs. The Judd Foundation

May 30, 2024

It started as something seemingly small. Celebrity personality Kim Kardashian showed off her new table on her YouTube channel. Not long after, The Judd Foundation — a nonprofit dedicated to the work and memory of artist Donald Judd — sued both Kardashian and the designer of the table for false endorsement and copyright infringement. What’s the big deal?

The deal is that Kardashian claimed the table was a Donald Judd design, implying it was purchased from the Judd foundation, when in fact it was designed by Clements Designs. This is another way that registered copyright and trademarks were able to protect the artist’s work, even after his death. 

What Is the Judd Foundation?

Donald Judd was a minimalist artist in the mid-20th century who later went on to design minimalist furniture. The Judd Foundation was conceived by Judd in the 1970s and formed after his death in 1994. Their goal is to preserve Judd’s work and art installations, as well as his working spaces themselves. To this day, the Judd Foundation maintains the copyright and trademarks for all of Donald Judd’s work.

The Kim Kardashian Video

In 2022, Kardashian posted a YouTube video in which she featured minimalist wooden tables. In the video, she made a point of saying that she had “really gotten into furniture lately,” and described the tables as Donald Judd tables. 

When the Judd Foundation saw the video, they took issue with Judd’s work being attributed to the “cheap knockoff tables” created by Clements Designs. They felt that her viewers would falsely believe the tables to be Donald Judd tables and thus associate the “cheap” quality to Judd’s work. They filed a suit against both Kardashian and Clements Designs for false endorsement, false advertising, unfair competition, as well as trademark and copyright infringement. 

Counter Arguments

It’s hard to deny the false endorsement on the part of Kim Kardashian, since there was documented evidence that she referred to the tables as Donald Judd tables, and the tables were in fact designed by Clements Designs. But as far as Clements Designs goes, things may be a little more complicated.

The Judd foundation claims that the tables were a knockoff of Judd’s own design. Clements Design, however, stated that there are “key differences” both in the wood used and in the design of the table. In the same statement, they said that the Judd Foundation had refused to reasonably settle. While that could change, so far, it seems as though the decision could be made in court.

Regardless of how this case turns out, it’s a good reminder of the ways that protecting your intellectual property can help you when the unexpected occurs. If someone associates your work with something that you did not approve and are not comfortable with, or makes a false endorsement, intellectual property attorneys like those of us at Garcia-Zamor can help you enforce your rights.