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If Only Kim Kardashian Had Not Called “These Donald Judd Tables” Amazing 

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Intellectual Property, Trademark

How does a brand determine when it needs to defend its creations? Often, it is not worth pursuing every possible instance of infringement. We have seen numerous fair use cases of copyright infringement that actually help promote the original creator.

Still, there has to be a line that you do not want people to cross. A manner of infringement that goes too far. The question is: where is that line?

This is a question that the Donald Judd Foundation had to answer recently regarding a Kim Kardashian video in which she gives a false endorsement – citing Donald Judd’s furniture in the room… when it is not his furniture.

The False Endorsement That Started the Controversy

The video in question, posted in 2022, features Kardashian giving a tour of her office. In the video, a boxy, minimalist-style table and chairs are visible. While this visual alone might not have been a problem, Kardashian makes a pivotal statement that drew the attention of the Judd Foundation: “If you guys are furniture people, I’ve really gotten into furniture lately, these Donald Judd tables are really amazing and totally blend in with the seats.” 

The tables and chairs in the video do, in fact, resemble two Donald Judd furniture pieces, which are cataloged meticulously by his Foundation:

However, the table and chairs in Kardashian’s office were not Judd pieces. In fact, they were designed and built by Clements Design in West Hollywood, CA. Kardashian’s intentional statement gave the false impression to consumers that the furniture was authentic DONALD JUDD furniture and that Kardashian worked with Mr. Judd or his estate in furnishing her office.  

Was this coincidental? When the Judd Foundation dug a bit deeper, they discovered that the brief for the office furniture included copyrighted photos of Judd’s pieces listed above, along with the rather misleading designation “dining tables… and dining chairs in the style of Donald Judd.”  

This is where a dialogue sprouted. The Judd Foundation contacted Kardashian and Clements Design with specific demands:

  • Delete the video
  • Destroy the fake copies of the furniture
  • Issue a public statement making clear that Kardashian’s office did not and does not contain actual Judd pieces

A back and forth ensued in which Kardashian representatives offered other alternative resolutions – like updating the video caption and making another post – and Clements Design defended the dissimilarities of their pieces from Judd’s. 

The Judd Foundation ended up rejecting all compromises. They filed a complaint suing both Kardashian and Clements Design on March 27th, which finally led to the takedown of the video. This lawsuit cites trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition, false advertising and false endorsement.

Just How Valuable Are These Tables & Chairs?

The foundation is led by Judd’s daughter, Rainer Judd, and she feels intimately in touch with both her father’s personal mission as an artist as well as the needs of the Foundation. 

To give context, the La Mansana table is sold for around $90,000, and each Chair 84 goes for about $9,000 – the sale of these pieces and other Judd furniture designs account for about half of the Foundations’ budget each year. Therefore, brand dilution and knockoff Judd furniture constitute a real threat to the organization’s solvency.

On top of this financial reality, Judd was known during his lifetime for his stark “purist” philosophy. He insisted on high standards for practices and materials in the creation of his work, and he actively confronted other artists who tried to mimic his work using inferior methods. 

In light of this uncompromising character and the current conflict, the Judd Foundation went so far as to say: “We don’t want to be mixed up with Kim Kardashian. We respect what she does, but we don’t want to be involved with this.”

You can see how these three factors combined to create a strong motivation for the Judd Foundation to pursue legal action against Kardashian and Clements Design. They are defending the image, the workmanship, and the income of Donald Judd’s legacy.

Going the Distance

On top of its original demands, the lawsuit also seeks any profits that Kardashian made from the false association to the Judd Foundation. Do they have a case? At the very least, the Judd Foundation has an unusual amount of conviction and resources to pursue this to the end.


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