Kim Kardashian GAP Lawsuit: Reputation Under Investigation in Melissa Molinaro-Old Navy Case

 @cavanshays
on January 20 2012 12:29 PM

Kim Kardashian has decided to sue The GAP, parent company of Old Navy, for illicitly using a model look-a-like in an Old Navy commercial.

Kardashian claims that by hiring doppelganger Melissa Molinaro, Old Navy caused confusion in the marketplace and violated the rights she has to her name and likeness. She feels her reputation has been damaged and is seeking $20 million.

The lawsuit was filed in July but GAP representatives are just now coming out with their plan of attack.

Via an exclusive interview obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, The GAP has begun an investigation to see whether Kim Kardashian's reputation has, in fact, been damaged.  The GAP has hired high-powered Hollywood attorney Louis Petrich to compile a case proving that Kardashian's reputation is libel-proof.

The investigation will look into why clothing retailer Bebe dropped its Kardashian clothing line and what motives could possibly be behind Kim's lawsuit. Petrich will look into financial records to determine how much Kim has made off her Sears and Bebe deals. He also hopes to uncover more about Kim Kardashian's reputation as a singer and dancer.

The Hollywood Reporter speculates that lawyers may attempt to prove Kim is libel-proof. This is an argument made by defendants who want to show a certain plaintiff's reputation is so tarnished that nothing can be done to damage it further.

The GAP may also want to prove that Molinaro is a legitimate singer and dancer who is complete dissimilar from Kardashian, who has no known work in the professions.

THR reports: The Gap wishes to bifurcate liability discovery from that involving damages, with the belief that it will be able to show a judge that Kardashian's claims have no merit early on in this lawsuit. Among the arguments it aims to use to get a judge to dismiss Kardashian's lawsuit at the summary judgment phase is that the 'look-alike' commercial in dispute was a small part of the overall campaign and therefore any profits attributed to a violation of Kardashian's rights are de minimis.

The investigation is set to take up to a year to complete. But, lawyers not involved in the case think that the plan could be successful (and damning).

I think it is a tenuous claim, attorney Alonzo Wickers told FOX411. The model didn't even strike me as being obviously a rip off of Kim Kardashian, and more importantly, didn't do anything in the ad that evokes anything I associate with Kim Kardashian. 

Others scoffed at any notion of any good-standing reputation the reality star may tout.

Kim Kardashian makes her reputation off of pushing the envelope, playing with the public psyche, and being controversial, explained legal expert Joey Jackson. She is a publicity craver and seeker, thereby making any publicity is good publicity for her.

What reputation? he added. She doesn't have one.

Jackson said The GAP and Petrich could establish a strong case proving that Kim's reputation is impossible to defame since she and her family actively seek publicity.

Steven Levitt, who calculates celebrity Q scores used by brands and networks to determine how to use particular celebrities in ads or on a show, said that Kardashian's reputation scores so low that nothing can bring it lower.

If someone has a high Q score, then you have reputation that could conceivably be damaged. Someone like Julia Roberts or Betty White-people whose positive ratings are drastically higher than their negative ratings-have a reputation to protect and they would have a strong lawsuit, Levitt explained. Kim's ratings are so negative she doesn't have anything to protect. 

Kardashian is expected to be a witness. Molinaro and casting agents from the Old Navy commercial are also expected to testify. Reggie Bush could also become involved, as THR reports The GAP wants his testimony. Bush dated Molinaro after the commercial came out. Defendants are going to make Bush's relationship with both Kardashian and Molinaro an issue. It's unclear what legal purpose this serves, but it's further proof of how personal this case has become, said THR.

Kardashian's lawyers plan to produce consumer surveys showing marketplace confusion. There is also speculation that they will call members of the media to testify on Old Navy's marketing plans.

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