LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 19: Kim Kardashian West attends The Promise Armenian Institute Event At UCLA at Royce Hall on November 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for UCLA)
When it comes to testing novel beauty services, Kim Kardashian West is no rookie. The reality star has been documenting treatments on reality TV and social media feeds for years, which ultimately drives up popularity for both the treatment and the provider.
Take the now-infamous “Vampire Facial,” also known as the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) facial, which she tried out in 2013 for an episode of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami. Following its television debut, the controversial treatment — which uses the patient’s own blood to rejuvenate the skin — skyrocketed to mainstream popularity.
We thought we’d seen the last of Kardashian West’s association with this procedure after she criticized it last year, saying it was “the one treatment that [she’ll] never do again.” But it looks like she’s facing the facial once again — this time, however, it might be in the courtroom.
According to a complaint filed under the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the reality star is currently suing Charles Runels, MD, and his practice, the Cellular Medicine Association, for copyright infringement, infringement of registered mark, false association, violation of the right of publicity, and California common law trademark infringement.
In simpler terms, Kardashian West alleges that the practice has been using her name and likeness to promote its business without her permission since 2013. The complaint, filed by Kardashian West’s attorneys, reads: “While ‘the Kardashians’—or, more accurately, Ms. Kardashian and her sister Kourtney—did ‘get’ a Vampire Facial, it was seven years ago. And they had certainly never licensed their name in connection with the procedure.”
A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on Mar 10, 2013 at 6:14pm PDT
The legal filing includes photos and screenshots of promotional pamphlets, the treatment website, and Dr. Runels’ LinkedIn page, all of which allegedly feature Kardashian West’s name or image — but it doesn’t end there. The complaint also alleges that Kardashian West reached out to Dr. Runels to ask him to stop using her name and likeness to which he declined and demanded that she pay him.
While Kardashian West hasn’t made a public statement as of yet, Dr. Runels shared a blog post on the Vampire Facial website. In it, he states that the reality star did not ask him to use the Vampire Facial name to promote Kourtney & Kim Take Miami. According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Charles E. Runels, Jr. is the registrant behind the “Vampire Facial” trademark filing as of 2013, which took effect two months before the airdate of the Vampire Facial episode of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami.
This isn’t the only controversy surrounding the vampire facial; last year, health officials in New Mexico shut down a clinic for investigation after reports of allegedly exposing patients to HIV. When administered properly, doctors say the vampire facial is safe, but if clinics don’t sterilize the micro-needling pen or dispose of it between facials, that could expose patients to infections.
We’ll have to wait and see how this particular Vampire Facial case develops, but it seems that both sides have a lot to say — for now.
We have reached out to Dr. Runels and Kim Kardashian West’s rep for further comment and we will update this post when we hear back.
Click HERE to read more from Refinery29