IMG model Yuliana Bondar recently filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against LASplash Cosmetics, alleging, inter alia, that an image of her was featured without her consent in an ad campaign by the company. (Links to the Complaint and Exhibits are provided at end of this post).
Bondar is a well-known model signed to IMG Models, an agency that has also represented top models Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen and Tyra Banks. She has walked the runway for Anne Klein, BCBG Max Azria, Tracy Reese, Marchesa, and Tory Burch, appeared in high-end catalogs for Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue, and has been featured in French Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire. LASplash Cosmetics designs and manufactures cosmetics, sold in over thirty countries. The complaint states that LASplash advertises their products in publications Seventeen, Teen, Nylon, In Style, OK, and American Cheerleader – a far cry from the publications Bondar has been featured in.
Bondar’s complaint alleges that New York-based photographer and defendant David Byun contacted Major Models, Bondar’s then agency, to have her appear for a photo shoot at George Brown Studio in New York. Bondar was never paid for the shoot, nor did she sign a release in connection with it. She claims that, “neither she nor her management team would have agreed for her to appear as “the face” of LASplash,” based on the high caliber of designers she has worked with in the past. The complaint further states that the images in the LASplash campaign were used without her permission, authorization, or written release. Bondar believes that the undisclosed and unauthorized use of her image damaged her career and inhibits her from working with cosmetics campaigns that may require exclusivity in the future. She is claiming unfair competition under the Trademark Act of 1946 (the Lanham Act), copyright infringement under the Copyright Act of 1976, unfair competition under the common law of the State of New York, and a violation of her rights under sections 50 and 51 of the New York Civil Rights Law.
Bondar’s fear about LASplash’s advertisements negatively affecting the possibility of being offered future cosmetics campaigns does seem to be warranted, as these contracts typically include exclusivity clauses. Generally, an exclusive agreement clause prevents a party to the contract from entering a similar contract with a third party. If Bondar is seen as the “face” of LASplash, her ability to obtain a lucrative exclusive contract with another beauty brand could be seriously jeopardized. She is seeking damages for the “unauthorized use” of her image because she is claiming that the ad is already hurting her career.
The complaint specifically states that these cosmetics campaigns, “are the landmark of a models career and are the most lucrative of all campaigns, as they result in the increased value of a models image.” New York Magazine’s “What’s the Ultimate Job a Model Can Book These Days?” November story by James Lim supports this argument. Lim asks some of the most influential players in the modeling world what they believe to be the most desirous opportunities to be, and the overwhelming response was cosmetics contracts. Chris Gay, the President of Marilyn Agency, answered, “Cosmetics contracts are always considered the crown jewel of a model’s career.” Top model Coco Rocha said, “Any perfume and cosmetics contract, of course.” And model Crystal Renn revealed that, “The coveted cosmetics contract is always the Holy Grail. It also offers the opportunity to work on representing a brand in a higher, more meaningful manner.”
Nearly all models are vying for a cosmetics campaign offer, so a situation like the one that Bondar has found herself in is certainly worrisome. With LASplash advertisements out there, Yuliana Bondar’s chances of becoming the “face” of another beauty brand – and reaping the benefits of such a contract – are slim.
For another, lighter, look at this story, refer to CosmeticsDesign.com.