The Frida Kahlo Corporation filed two lawsuits on March 4 against online merchants in a bid to end the unauthorized reproduction of Kahlo’s likeness and art.

The company, which owns the trademark, has demanded that Amazon vendors either relinquish all profits allegedly made from her counterfeit image, or $2 million “for each and every counterfeit use of the asserted trademarks,” Courthouse News reports. 

“Defendants’ images, artwork and derivative works are virtually identical to and/or substantially similar to the Frida Kahlo works,” the company wrote in its primary complaint. “Such conduct infringes and continues to infringe the Frida Kahlo works in violation of [U.S. trademark law].”

Related Articles

A woman lying on grass with one arm over her eyes.

New Frida Kahlo Documentary at Sundance Doesn’t Even Scratch the Surface of a Complex Artist

Frida Kahlo’s Sole Portrait of Younger Sister to Sell from Music Executive’s Collection at Christie’s

Frida Kahlo, a staunch anti-capitalist, died in 1954 without a will, so in accordance with Mexico’s property law, her niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, inherited the artist’s property rights. Isolda Pinedo Kahlo’s daughter, Maria Cristina Romeo Pinedo, was granted power of attorney over these rights in 2003. The Frida Kahlo Corporation was formed the following year with the primary objective of safeguarding the “licensing and commercializing of the ‘Frida Kahlo’ brand worldwide.” Based in Panama City, Panama, it controls more than two dozen trademarks associated with Kahlo’s brand. 

The company claims in its lawsuit that the online merchants used “fictitious names” to peddle products on Amazon and other online commercial platforms, and gained their products from a “common source.”

“Defendants communicate with each other and regularly participate in chat rooms and online forums regarding tactics for operating multiple accounts, evading detection, pending litigation, and potential new lawsuits,” the company writes in their complaint.

This is not the first time the Frida Kahlo Corporation has tried to exert legal control of Kahlo’s brand. In 2018 the Frida Kahlo Corporation filed a complaint in the US District Court for Southern Florida against Kahlo’s great-niece, Maria Cristina Romeo Pinedo, and her daughter, Mara de Anda Romeo, accusing the two of trademark infringement. Long-simmering tension between the parties erupted following Mattel’s release of a Barbie doll depicting Kahlo.

The artist’s relatives argued in a Mexican court that the company did not have license to use Kahlo’s image for the series of toys which honored inspiring women in history. A judge ruled in their favor and ordered the toymaker and department stores in Mexico to stop selling the doll. Mattel said in a statement that it had obtained permission from the Panama-based Frida Kahlo Corporation, “which owns all the rights.”

These legal battles are complicated by Kahlo’s own political legacy. Kahlo was deeply inspired by the ideals and nationalist fervor of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, which replaced an oligarchy that favored wealthy industrialists with a constitutional republic. After marrying Diego Rivera, she became active within Communist and anti-imperialist circles. (Kahlo and Rivera hosted Trotsky and his wife, Natalia Sedova, at Casa Azul after the couple fled Stalin’s regime.) She was also critical of capitalist systems in the United States and Europe, both of which she wrote about with disdain in private correspondence.