Frida Kahlo Corporation Sues Amazon Vendors

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Mexican artist Frida Kahlo c. 1950 (photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

The Frida Kahlo Corporation (FKC), which licenses the Mexican painter’s name and image, is suing an undisclosed number of online vendors over sales involving the alleged unauthorized use of Kahlo’s trademarked image and works. 

On Monday, March 4, the Panama City-based company filed two lawsuits in an Illinois district court. The claims, first reported by Courthouse News Service, contend that overseas online merchants operating “under the cover of aliases” on third-party marketplace platforms like Amazon have manufactured and sold products featuring “counterfeit or infringing versions” of the company’s trademarks and copyrights — including prints, cosmetics, beverages, smoking accessories, toys, accessories, cooking ware, cameras, and face masks. These objects reportedly depicted trademarked visuals of Kahlo featuring watermelons, a green ring, palm fronds, and pink and blue flowers. 

In the suit, FKC’s lawyers claim that the vendors “targeted” Illinois consumers by operating online enterprises selling them these goods bearing faux versions of the company’s industrial property.

“Tactics used by Defendants to conceal their identities and the full scope of their infringing operations and relatedness make it virtually impossible for Plaintiff to learn Defendants’ true identities and the precise interworking of their counterfeit network,” FKC’s lawyers wrote, additionally alleging that the online sellers regularly strategize their operations via chat rooms and online forums, “evading detection, pending litigation, and potential new lawsuits.”

FKC is now requesting the anonymous sellers pay the company an undisclosed amount equivalent to “all profits” obtained through these online sales, or alternatively, a $2 million “award of statutory damages” to account for “each and every counterfeit use.”

Hyperallergic has reached out to FKC’s lawyers for comment.

FKC was founded in 2004 by Kahlo’s niece Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, who inherited the Mexican artist’s trademarks and copyrights; her daughter Maria Cristina Romeo Pinedo; and Carlos Dorado, a Venezuelan entrepreneur who is currently FKC’s majority shareholder through Panamanian proprietors. The company owns nearly 30 trademarks affiliated with the artist, including numerous goods and services ranging from perfumes and soaps to books and art prints. 

This lawsuit follows a lengthy legal debacle between the company and Kahlo’s great-niece Mara Cristina Romeo Pinedo, who in 2018 filed a temporary injunction in Mexico to prevent the marketing and sale of Mattel’s Frida Kahlo Barbie doll in the country. But in late 2021, the Superior Court of Justice of Mexico City ruled in favor of the company, overriding the block and reasserting FKC’s legal ownership over the artist’s brand.

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