Kim Kardashian West sues doctor over “Vampire Facial” ads
Reality TV star and businesswoman Kim Kardashian West is suing an Alabama doctor over allegations he wrongly used her image to promote a medical procedure called a “Vampire Facial.”
West filed suit Tuesday in Los Angeles against Dr. Charles Runels of coastal Fairhope, Alabama. The suit claims Runels misused West’s image in promotional materials after she posted a photo of herself on social media showing the results of a “Vampire Facial.”
West, a reality TV star and successful businesswoman who has a number of beauty and lifestyle enterprises and millions of followers on social media, asked a federal judge to bar Runels from using her name or photo and to make him and any other doctors who benefited pay her profits. Kardashian, with 153 million followers on Instagram, is considered hugely influential in beauty and fashion trends.
Runels, 59, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that West wrongly used his trademarked name for a medical procedure to promote herself. He called the lawsuit “disappointing.” His website, vampirefacial.com, posted a statement saying Runels hadn’t asked her to use the name or promote the treatment, but that the site would take down her name and image.
“I’ve already taken all the stuff off my website, but I’m not going to let her call me a thief. First she works to let everyone in the world know she had a Vampire Facial and now she doesn’t want anyone to talk about it,” Runels said.
“We’re trying to do good medicine. The last thing we want to do is spend millions of dollars arguing with a celebrity,” he said.
The cosmetic procedure involves drawing a patient’s blood, spinning it in a centrifuge and then injecting small amounts under the skin using multiple, small needles, Runels’ website says, and blood also is applied topically on the skin.
In his statement, Runels said he “designed the procedures, coined the words, and owns the marks—registered in his name at the US Patent & Trademark Office” for the Vampire Facial. Runels said about 2,300 physicians in 50 countries are licensed to perform the procedure.
West underwent the procedure from an associated doctor in Miami in 2013 before posting a photo of herself online with blood on her face, he said.
The lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of money, contends Runels wrongly used her photo and name to promote his business.
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