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  4. After years of legal issues, Hayley Paige and JLM Couture finally reached a settlement that gives the designer her name back

After years of legal issues, Hayley Paige and JLM Couture finally reached a settlement that gives the designer her name back

Samantha Grindell   

After years of legal issues, Hayley Paige and JLM Couture finally reached a settlement that gives the designer her name back
  • Hayley Paige Gutman and JLM Couture settled their legal issues for $263,000.
  • The settlement gives Gutman ownership over her name and the @misshayleypaige social-media accounts.

Hayley Paige is back.

On Friday, a Delaware bankruptcy court approved a settlement agreement between wedding dress designer Hayley Paige Gutman and JLM Couture, the parent company that owned Hayley Paige Bridal and sued Gutman over her use of the @misshayleypaige Instagram account in 2020.

After a yearslong legal battle, the settlement, which Business Insider reviewed, not only gives Gutman her name and the @misshayleypaige social-media accounts back but also gives her ownership of the Hayley Paige wedding dress brand outright.

"I didn't really see much of a path forward in litigation," Gutman told BI on Friday. "This resolution and outcome allows me to not only use my name but use it as bridal, so that's extra special and I'm so grateful for it."

"We think the settlement agreement is in the best interest of both parties," JLM Couture said in a statement to BI. "We wish Ms. Gutman well."

Hayley Paige Gutman and JLM Couture have been in a legal battle since 2020

Gutman started working with JLM Couture in 2011, selling her designs under the company's umbrella.

During her tenure at JLM, Gutman became a powerhouse in the bridal industry and a household name not only through her designs but also @misshayleypaige's large Instagram following and her appearances on "Say Yes to the Dress."

But Gutman's relationship with JLM turned rocky in 2019 when she and CEO Joe Murphy started disagreeing over who owned the @misshayleypaige social-media accounts. After months of tension, JLM was granted a temporary restraining order against Gutman on December 15, 2020, barring her from using the accounts without Murphy's written permission.

Gutman then resigned from the company, and by March 2021, JLM had been granted a preliminary injunction against her, preventing Gutman from using the @misshayleypaige accounts and Hayley Paige trademarks.

The incident led to a multi-year legal battle, with the company suing Gutman and her fiancé Conrad Clevlen for copyright infringement, defamation, and breach of contract, among other issues.

Gutman, who signed a non-compete agreement with JLM at the time of her employment, changed her professional name to Cheval in August 2022 and launched a shoe brand called She Is Cheval while she could not work in the bridal space.

Gutman tried to regain control of her name after JLM filed for bankruptcy

Amid its legal battle with Gutman, JLM filed for bankruptcy in October 2023, pointing to the designer as one of the sources of its financial issues in a press release shared at the time.

JLM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows a company to continue operations while it restructures its assets.

But on April 15, Gutman filed a motion reviewed by BI that would require the company to sell off its assets rather than reorganize as a "party in interest" in the bankruptcy filing.

Gutman's motion argued that the fees associated with JLM's ongoing litigation would continue to drain the company's finances when it had already faced a 65% revenue decline from 2018 to 2022. It also said JLM had seen a "decline of relationships with important retailers" due to its legal issues with Gutman, which decreased the likelihood of successfully reorganizing.

"In the bankruptcy court, there was really an opportunity to see it from a different perspective," Gutman told BI of pursuing the change. "I wasn't really seeing litigation as a place where there were going to be winners and losers. I saw it as almost like an infinite game. So I was like, 'I need to choose a new path.'"

JLM objected to the motion on April 30, saying in a separate filing reviewed by BI that Gutman had an "agenda of destroying" the company.

Meanwhile, the preliminary injunction that prevented Gutman from accessing the @misshayleypaige social-media accounts was up for debate again in May in a New York District Court after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals determined the case should be revisited in January of this year.

On May 8, the court revised its ruling and ordered JLM to restore Gutman's access to the @misshayleypaige social-media accounts by May 15. Gutman told BI she's optimistic the ruling could help set a precedent for similar cases.

By mid-May, JLM faced the prospect of Gutman regaining control of the @misshayleypaige social-media accounts while she appealed to the bankruptcy court to liquidate the company's assets.

Gutman and JLM reached a settlement in May

In April, tensions between Gutman and JLM hadn't appeared to thaw, with JLM saying Gutman was "attempting to force the [company] into submission or to destroy it in the process" in its response to her bankruptcy motion.

But on May 14, Gutman and Clevlen reached a settlement with JLM and its CEO in a process that Gutman told BI went faster than she anticipated. The Delaware Bankruptcy Court approved the agreement on Friday, and assuming Gutman pays JLM within 5 days of the court's ruling, the designer and company's over three years of legal issues will come to a close.

Gutman will pay JLM $263,000 per the terms of the settlement.

The agreement released Gutman "from all rights, restrictions, and/or obligations to JLM" and states that the settlement is not an admission of liability for either party in their previous lawsuits. Also, per the settlement terms, the parties cannot publicly disparage each other.

Most importantly, the settlement gives Gutman ownership of all intellectual property associated with Hayley Paige that JLM previously owned, including the trademarks and lookbooks for the bridal lines Hayley Paige Bridal, Blush By Hayley Paige, and Hayley Paige Occasions, as well as the social-media accounts associated with her name.

"I'm so excited to have it and hold it and then go give it to everyone else," she said of her work.

Following the settlement, JLM will continue its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings without Gutman's involvement. The company's next hearing on the matter is set for June 18.

Gutman can reenter the bridal space using her name

By Wednesday, Gutman had removed posts from the @misshayleypaige account past December 2020, so the page contained personal shots of the designer and photos of her bridal work rather than the more professional images the JLM team had filled the page with in recent years.

"I'm so grateful for the support and just getting through that time and everything," she said of her social following. "We just can be one big happy family now."

The settlement also frees Gutman of her non-compete agreement with JLM, so she can design wedding dresses again.

She told BI she plans to make wedding dresses under the Hayley Paige brand. It will take some time before she has new designs and dresses for customers to buy, but Gutman said she can't wait to interact with brides again.

"I really get emotional thinking about it," Gutman said of owning Hayley Paige.

She also plans to keep designing shoes and accessories under She Is Cheval as a "sister brand" to Hayley Paige. But for now, Gutman is just basking in the glow of getting to call herself Hayley Paige again.

"I keep saying it," she said. "I call my mom, and I'm like, 'Mom, it's Hayley Paige.'"

"I'm just taking in this moment because I can't believe it," Gutman added.


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