Kim Kardashian West’s company has been named in a $100 million lawsuit for its endorsement of a product designed to help consumers take “the perfect selfie.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Snap Light, LLC, a manufacturer of lighted phone cases, filed a patent infringement lawsuit on Monday against Kardashian West’s company, Kimsaprincess, Inc. The suit alleges that LuMee, a competing product endorsed by Kardashian, “willfully violated Snap Light, LLC’s exclusively licensed patent for LED lights surrounding a cellphone case,” according to a statement on Snap Light’s website.
The complaint alleges that a man named Hooshmand Harooni was granted a patent in 2013 for “a protective mobile phone device case that provides a LED lighting solution integrated with the case.” Harooni then licensed the technology exclusively to Snap Light.
LuMee produces a similar, apparently more commercially successful product, which co-founder Allan Shoemake described in a May 2015 CNBC article as the “first smartphone case for the selfie generation.”
The case uses LED lights to illuminate front-facing cameras for better selfies, even when taken in dark locations such as bars and clubs. The cases retail for $39.95 to $69.95 on the company’s website and at other retailers.
LuMee officially announced its partnership with Kardashian West in January 2016. In a company statement, LuMee noted that the celebrity had been “utilizing our LuMee case almost since inception.”
Kardashian West has promoted the product through her vast social media following, and even used it to take a selfie with then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I’ve never seen this anywhere else….it has light all the way around it. Like little tiny, tiny light bulbs… I have been desperately looking for one of those ever since! But no luck.”
In a video on LuMee’s website, Shoemake, a professional photographer, recounts how he came up with the idea for his product while having conversations with his daughter via Skype.
Shoemake pitched his product to Kevin O’Leary of ABC’s Shark Tank, who expressed his surprise that LuMee did not have any competitors.
“It’s just one of those things where you come up with the idea and you think, ‘Oh, it’s probably already out there.’ But it wasn’t,” Shoemake told CNBC.
Monday’s lawsuit claims it was. According to Snap Light’s statement, Kardashian West’s company “bullied the small San Diego based firm by sending letters to SnapLight® distributors and retailers with false patent infringement allegations. Kardashian West, through LuMee®, demanded that sales of SnapLight® cases cease due to these false allegations.”
Snap Light claims these actions resulted in loss of revenue for its company.
Monday’s filing is just the latest in what appears to be an ongoing battle between the two companies. In fact, LuMee filed suit against Snap Light in November 2016 for “willful patent infringement” of its own patent which was granted in October 2016. According to The Fashion Law, that case is still pending before a federal court in Delaware.
Hollywood Reporter noted that Urban Outfitters, one of LuMee’s retail partners, was also named in the suit for having “benefitted financially through increased sales of the LuMee selfie cases.”
A representative for Kardashian West told TMZ that “the patent lawsuit filed by Snap Light has no merit and is just another attempted shakedown. Kim has done absolutely nothing wrong.”
Feature photo: Associated Press