Bethenny Frankel is taking TikTok to task over a brand using one of her videos without her permission to sell its sweaters.
The former Real Housewives fixture alleges that many of her nearly 1 million TikTok followers notified her that there was an ad on the app that appeared to feature her promoting a counterfeit designer cardigan, per legal documents obtained by Page Six. According to The Washington Post, Frankel says she became aware of the issue in September, claiming that the creator of the ad took an old video of her wearing and extolling the virtues of a Jenni Kayne cardigan and edited it to make it look as though she was promoting the knockoff product, which she had not consented to. In the filing, the reality star says that after being alerted to the fraudulent video, she posted a TikTok of her own to warn fans of the “unauthorized and illegal use of her persona to sell counterfeit goods.” Though she claims that TikTok deleted that post for being “abusive,” she has since posted a few additional videos addressing the situation and her lawsuit.
According to the suit, Frankel is seeking monetary damages, claiming that her reputation has “suffered significant injury and irreparable harm” due to the fake ad. She is also challenging TikTok’s advertising policy, as she claims that the platform currently does not “police” this type of behavior. The lawsuit states that influencers like herself are forced to “constantly monitor for and police any unauthorized use of their name, portrait, picture and voice to ensure that counterfeiters and other unauthorized parties do not peddle counterfeited and other unauthorized products using their personas, voices, content, or likenesses. This requires substantial time and investment from the content creators, effort which is not always successful, and it is not compensated by TikTok in any form whatsoever.” (Speaking to the Post, a TikTok spokesperson said, “We have strict policies to both protect people’s hard-earned intellectual property and keep misleading content off of TikTok. We regularly review and improve our policies and processes in order to combat increasingly sophisticated fraud attempts and further strengthen our systems.”)
In a TikTok video posted on September 18, Frankel said of the situation, “This is something that has to be addressed, because it’s a breeding ground for scams.… What if this really, really damaged my image? Because a lot of people are feeling like, Oh, she sold out.” In another video, she added, “These people are garbage scumbag scoundrel scammers stealing, and their products are garbage—and don’t buy them.” On Thursday, Frankel wrote on Instagram, “I have a voice. It’s my right and responsibility to use it and to encourage others to constructively do so as well.… Consumers and creators are being exploited with no recourse or power to defend and protect themselves. That ends now.”
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