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Legal battle over Frida Kahlo brand

The heiresses of the Mexican painter claim the Frida Kahlo Corporation has breached the terms of their contract
Limited edition of Bohemia beer - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
06/09/2017
15:00
Sonia Sierra
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In January 2005, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, daughter of Cristina Kahlo, sister of the painter, entered into an agreement with the Frida Kahlo Corporation (F.K.Co.), based in Miami, Florida.

The Frida Kahlo brand is registered before the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) and it seems the brand itself has become ubiquitous – nail polish, books, bags, shoes, shirts and more. The only detail is that Mara Romeo and Mara de Anda, daughter and grand-daughter, respectively, of the late Isola Pinedo and thus the current holders of the rights to the brand, claim they had no knowledge of the use F.K.Co is giving to both, the image and the name, of their famous relative.

“They never tell us what they're doing, how they're doing it, why or with whom. Since 2009 we know nothing and they keep requesting licenses; they were supposed to share the knowledge so we could work together,” says Mara de Anda.

Presently, there is a request before the IMPI to copyright a design that despite not having any name, can be easily identified as the eyebrows of the painter, and the lines of business the F.K.Co proposes to use it for is personal hygiene products, food supplements, medical supplies and even the so-called “period panties”.

Both heiresses claim they don't know the exact number of product licenses the Corporation has obtained, and that is one of the many reasons why they have notified their business partner of a breach of contract, which pursuant to terms of the contract, represents an immediate termination of their agreement.

According to the notification, the Corporation has breached several terms of the contract (for legal reasons, the full details haven't been disclosed), thus, they have been revoked the permission to use the name, brand, and image of Frida Kahlo

Yet, the F.K.Co, registered before the IMPI, continues using the name and image of the Mexican painter. They have even granted usage permits to other firms and approved the opening of two restaurants with the name of the painter in the towns of Morelia and Playa del Carmen – of which the heiresses also claim they had no knowledge.

In addition, the Frida Kahlo Corporation presents itself as the owner of “the rights to the brand name Frida Kahlo world wide”, according to their official website.

“We entered into a partnership with them, we never sold them our rights,” explains de Anda, who claims that when F.K.Co was incoporated, the agreement with the Corporation was that they would provide the brand name, while the Corporation would provide the resources and the know-how.

The F.K.Co. had the approval, at the beginning of the partnership, to use the image of the painter for the marketing of a tequila which bears her name; the image is based on a portrait of the artists drawn by Guillermo Kahlo, Frida Kahlo's father, and said image was registered before the Mexican Copywright Institute by Mara Romeo.

“They aren't very clear on image usage rights,”– claims De Anda, “They have licenses of something they don't have. They don't have the [approval], except for one product: the tequila.”

In recent years, Mara Romeo and her daughter have developed several products in partnership with Nestlé, Panam, Mont Blanc (royalties-free), Tawi, and others.

They claim the products they release “have something to do with Frida, relate to a part of her life, and we provide a context for the final consumer so they are familiar with a detail of Frida's life, so they can say they're not only buying a product but also a part of her history.”

EL UNIVERSAL sent an email to the Frida Kahlo Corporation requesting their statement on the matter, but they didn't reply.

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