Wedding-dress designer Hayley Paige says she's been legally banned from using her own name amid a bitter legal battle with her parent company
- Wedding-dress designer Hayley Paige Gutman posted a video on Instagram announcing her resignation amid a legal battle with JLM Couture, the owner of her brands.
- JLM has sued Gutman over her personal use of social-media accounts affiliated with her brands, including the Instagram account, @misshayleypaige. Gutman says she's been temporarily banned from the account.
- A complaint reviewed by Insider says Gutman used the account for personal and promotional posts "as if she were an influencer."
- According to the lawsuit, Gutman signed the rights to her name in a business context over to JLM when she signed an employment contract in 2011; in her video, Gutman said she regrets not having a lawyer look at the document.
- JLM refutes Gutman's claim she didn't have a lawyer, a spokesperson for the company told Insider.
- Gutman told Insider she feels "violated and angry."
Wedding-dress designer Hayley Paige claims she's been locked out of her main social-media accounts and banned from using her own name after a legal battle with JLM Couture, the company that owns her bridal brands.
JLM has sued the designer - whose full name is Hayley Paige Gutman - over her personal use of social-media accounts affiliated with her brands, including the Instagram account, @misshayleypaige, which has 1.1 million followers. A complaint filed on December 15, and reviewed by Insider, alleges that Gutman began using the account over the summer "as her own business platform as if she were an influencer."
"It is with a heavy heart that I have resigned from my role as head designer of my labels with JLM Couture," Gutman wrote in the caption. "Going forward, I will no longer be associated with any of their products, including the designs and dresses which bear my name."
According to Gutman, JLM convinced a court to ban her temporarily from using her own name publicly and in a business context. Gutman said the company was also given sole control of her main social-media accounts. However, the complaint says JLM had the @misshayleypaige Instagram account, among other social-media pages for its Hayley Paige labels, created for business purposes and maintains that these belong to the company.
"I feel violated and angry," Gutman told Insider. "I think that demanding I turn over an account full of my personal photos and messages was deliberately intended to pressure me."
The lawsuit says the wedding-dress designer was using company social-media accounts like an influencer
According to the complaint, issues started when Gutman created a TikTok account with the name "misshayleypaige" in November 2019, "and subsequently posted videos that did not properly represent the HP [Hayley Paige] brands."
The complaint alleges that when JLM's CEO "Joe Murphy advised Gutman that she should post JLM approved content on the Tik Tok account, rather than posting personal images, Gutman responded shortly thereafter by changing the password to the Main IG Account [@misshayleypaige] so that JLM no longer had access."
Gutman also changed the Instagram account bio to say it was a "Personal & Creative account" and "removed reference to JLM" sometime in late 2019 or early 2020, according to the lawsuit.
In July, the complaint says Gutman started sharing personal posts as well as posts touting "the goods of third parties, such as olive oil, beer and nutritional supplements, none of which were approved by JLM."
According to the complaint, Gutman had "been paid for these endorsements, and therefore has profited off the substantial investment made by JLM at JLM's expense." (The complaint says JLM spent millions of dollars on its social-media accounts to grow their follower count and engagement.)
Although the complaint says Gutman later restored links to JLM on the Instagram account following a meeting with Murphy in October, she later "removed these links and many hundreds of bridal related posts in a further act of exercising dominion and control over JLM's property" after a November 2 call with Murphy; during this call, the complaint says Murphy told Gutman the account belonged to JLM.
Later that month, Gutman refused "JLM's request to add JLM content" to the account, and "insisted that the Main IG Account is her personal account," the complaint says. "Gutman still refuses to return the Main IG Account to JLM, continues to delete JLM related posts on the account, continues to post off-brand content [...] and refuses to post the bridal related content as required by JLM," it reads.
Gutman has also refused to give JLM access to the Pinterest and TikTok accounts under the misshayleypaige name, according to the complaint.
Gutman signed away the rights to her name for business purposes in a 2011 employment agreement
According to the complaint, when Gutman signed an employment agreement in July 2011, she granted JLM "the exclusive world-wide right and license to use her name 'Hayley', 'Paige', 'Hayley Paige Gutman', 'Hayley Gutman', 'Hayley Paige', or any derivative thereof [...] in connection with the design, manufacture, marketing and/or sale of bridal clothing, bridal accessories, and related bridal and wedding items."
Gutman, who said she was 25 at the time she signed the contract, said in her Instagram video that it was a mistake not to have a lawyer look over the agreement first.
"I am shocked and disappointed that JLM Couture and CEO Joseph Murphy could or would do this to me, and I wanted to be the first to personally tell you that I am no longer personally running the accounts associated with @miss (followed by my name), at least until this matter is resolved in court," Gutman said in the video.
Gutman added that she is "mortified and devastated" not to have access to the @misshayleypaige account.
JLM Couture told Page Six it had been the sole financial backer of Hayley Paige for nearly a decade and had helped "grow it into a successful wedding gown line."
The statement continued: "While negotiating a new employment contract, the two sides disagreed over how much freedom Hayley would have to promote her non-related side businesses on the company site. After Hayley stopped posting JLM content and deprived the company access to the account, we brought the matter before the court. After carefully listening to both sides, a judge granted us the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). We respect the judge's decision that JLM should have temporary control over the company site and feel the process was fair and equitable."
The legal battle to negotiate a new contract has been going on for a year and a half, Gutman said in her Instagram video.
In her video, Gutman said she had found the behavior of JLM and Murphy "controlling, manipulative, and bullying."
She added: "I do not wish to subscribe to their business ethics or the way they treat employees and others."
JLM disputes Gutman's claims
In a statement sent to Insider, a spokesperson for JLM said they felt "compelled to respond to the video Hayley posted on her personal social media account - and set the record straight on a few critical points."
The spokesperson claims Gutman "absolutely did" consult with a lawyer before signing an initial contract, and there were multiple rounds of negotiations until both parties were in agreement.
Secondly, JLM says Gutman is not banned "from accessing the brand's social media accounts."
The spokesperson said: "Hayley still has access to the accounts, and JLM Couture encourages and would welcome Hayley to work with us to publish on the brand's Instagram and other social media platforms posts that are supportive of the Hayley Paige brands. The brands are what everyone, including Hayley, JLM, and our retail partners, has worked so hard to build."
Furthermore, the statement says that around 75% of JLM Couture's employees are female: "All upper management, aside from Joe, are women - many of whom have worked here for a decade or more. JLM supports women, and pledges to continue to do so."
The spokesperson said: "Because of our near decade-long record of success, working every day with Hayley to grow the brand from scratch into one of the most successful and recognizable wedding gown brands in the world, we were disappointed and surprised when Hayley resigned from the company during active contract negotiations. We have worked collaboratively with Hayley and the dedicated team of designers and assistants to fund and build the brand into the success it is today. We continue to hold Hayley in the highest regard and hope to resolve any differences."
Gutman says she's unsure of her next move
As the dispute continues, Gutman told Insider she's thinking about what to do next: "I'm going to build a better castle. I know I want to continue to serve brides, and I will find a way to do that."
She didn't expect such a huge reaction to her video, which has now been viewed over 2 million times.
"I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude," she said. "I didn't know what to expect by my video. I was just horrified that JLM was using my account to post their commercial content in my name, and not tell anyone what they were doing. Now, though, I feel surrounded by support. I feel like I have made a lot of new friends, and if I could stand in front of each of them, I would tell them how much I love and appreciate them."
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