Twitter

Designer Hayley Paige loses Instagram account after licensing the right to her name

By: Madison Budinich

Designers often lose the rights to their own names by selling their business, and the rights that go with that brand.[1] However, wedding gown designer Hayley Gutman, more commonly known by her gown line’s name, Hayley Paige, may also lose the rights to her social media accounts as a result of her contract with the bridal house JLM Couture (JLM).[2] JLM hired Gutman in 2011 to design wedding gowns.[3] Under the parties’ 2011 contract, Gutman licensed to JLM the rights to variations of her name, including “Hayley Gutman,” “Hayley Paige Gutman,” and “Hayley Paige,” in conjunction with bridal gowns.[4] Her bridal gowns were ultimately sold under the name Hayley Paige.[5]

In 2012, Gutman created an Instagram account with the name MissHayleyPaige, after a term of endearment used by her mother.[6] As her designs gained popularity, Gutman’s Instagram account did too, amassing 1.1 million followers by November of 2020.[7] Gutman posted both personal photographs from her life and of gowns she designed for her line with JLM.[8] JLM and Gutman agreed that Gutman would promote her bridal gown line on her personal accounts, which helps brides feel connected to the design process and increases sales. [9] JLM began to press Gutman to post more about the Hayley Paige line on her personal Instagram, and assigned an employee to help Gutman choose posts for her page that aligned with the Hayley Paige brand and goals.[10]

Gutman also created a MissHayleyPaige TikTok account in 2019, and conflict arose when Gutman refused to post further JLM content on TikTok and would not allow JLM to access the accounts.[11] Gutman, similar to her Instagram account, posted videos about her designs and her personal life, including promoting a podcast that she hosts with her fiancé.[12] In 2019, Gutman changed the passwords to her accounts, preventing JLM from accessing or posting on the pages.[13] Gutman further refused to post JLM content to her personal MissHayleyPaige Instagram account and deleted some former posts that included JLM related content.[14] On December 15, 2020, JLM filed a lawsuit against Gutman over her use of the MissHayleyPaige accounts.[15] As JLM attempted to seize control of Gutman’s personal accounts, Gutman announced that she would no longer be working with JLM Couture, but the 2011 contract does not allow Gutman to unilaterally terminate the contract.[16]

After failure to negotiate a new contract with Gutman, JLM requested a temporary injunction to regain control of several social media accounts.[17] This motion was granted and prevented Gutman from posting on her personal MissHayleyPaige Instagram account, and even from removing personal photographs from the account.[18] JLM then requested a preliminary injunction to enforce the terms of the 2011 contract.[19] The court granted JLM the preliminary injunction because the license for use of the “Hayley Paige” name unambiguously included accounts used under the name, and continued to provide JLM access to the MissHayleyPaige Instagram account.[20]

Gutman spoke out about settlement attempts to regain control of her account, but those attempts have been unsuccessful.[21] The 2011 contract also included a non-compete clause, and the contract terminates in August of 2022.[22] JLM’s right to use Gutman’s name additionally extends two years beyond the termination of the contract.[23] Gutman may need to refrain from designing and selling gowns until the contract termination date, and even if Gutman is able to regain control of her Instagram account, she will not be able to use her name in conjunction with bridal gowns until 2024. [24]

As social media accounts become more popular in brand marketing, disputes over access and control of accounts may become more commonplace. When influencers agree to license the use of their name, they likely do not expect that another entity will be able to gain control of that account. Influencers and artists should consider hiring legal counsel to review any legal documents or licensing agreements, and be more careful about entering into agreements like Hayley Gutman’s. Otherwise, companies may be able to gain control of personal social media accounts with large followings if the brand is named after the influencer who licenses the use of their name. 


[1] See, e.g., Kate Spade Turns Kate Valentine, Demonstrates the Risks of the Personal Brand Name, The Fashion Law (June 5, 2018), https://www.thefashionlaw.com/kate-spade-turns-kate-valentine-demonstrates-the-risks-of-the-personal-brand-name/.

[2] JLM Couture, Inc. v. Gutman, No. 20 CV 10575-LTS-SLC, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40953, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. 2021).

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at *3-4. 

[6] Id. at *10.

[7] Id. at *19. 

[8] Id. at *13-16.

[9] See id. at *13-14.

[10] Id. at *14-16.

[11] Samantha Grindel et al., A complete timeline of bridal designer Hayley Paige’s months-long legal battle with JLM Couture, Insider (Mar. 23, 2021), https://www.insider.com/hayley-paige-gutman-jlm-couture-controversy-timeline-2021-1.

[12] See generally, Hayley Paige (@misshayleypaige), Instagram, https://instagram.com/misshayleypaige/ (last visited Apr. 11, 2021).

[13] JLM Couture, Inc., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40953, at *78.

[14] Grindel et al., supra note 11.

[15] Id.

[16] @allthatglittersonthegram, Instagram (Dec. 21, 2020), https://www.instagram.com/p/CJD7CIbn7UN/ (last visited Apr. 11, 2021). The post begins “Announcing my resignation from JLM Couture.” Id.

[17] Grindel et. al., supra note 11.

[18] Id.

[19] JLM Couture, Inc., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40953, at *21.

[20] Id. at *30.

[21] @allthatglittersonthegram, Instagram (Dec. 29, 2020), https://www.instagram.com/p/CJZqicJHOR9/ (last visited Apr. 11, 2021). The post begins “Some updates… Today I made an offer to JLM…” Id.

[22] JLM Couture, Inc., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40953, at *48.

[23] Id. at *23.

[24] See id