Facts, opinions, and the real story behind Mary Kay Cosmetics.
 

Mary Kay Inc. Sues Jennifer Bickel Cook

Last week Mary Kay threatened to sue Jennifer Bickel Cook for writing a tell-all book about her time working for Mary Kay Ash and the Mary Kay Museum and Mary Kay Foundation. They made good on the threat on Friday.

The complaint is quite a read. Here are some of the high points/accusations:

  • Mary Kay requires that creative works by current or former employees be “personal” and “original,” and that the work, if it includes company information, be submitted to Mary Kay for review and approval as to the content, form, and the proposed method of distribution.
  • Ms. Cook designed her book to confuse customers into thinking it’s endorsed, sponsored, or approved by Mary Kay.
  • She uses quotes from Mary Kay Ash in the book!!!!
  • The title of the book includes Mary Kay Ash’s name.
  • The cover of the book is pink, just like “Mary Kay Pink.”
  • The book includes photographs of Mary Kay.
  • Jennifer created the book to compete against Mary Kay’s own books.
  • She misappropriated Mary Kay’s proprietary information (although they never say what this might be).
  • Jennifer interfered with sales force members’ contracts by persuading them to promote, distribute, and sell the book. Consultants attended her sales force events, where members violated the terms and conditions of their agreements with Mary Kay.
  • Ms. Cook signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) during her employment, and she agreed not to use proprietary information to her own benefit or to disclose that proprietary information.

There is much ado about Jennifer using “verbatim passages from pre-existing, Mary Kay-owned publications.” Yes, Mary Kay, people do quote other works in their writings and give proper attribution to them. This is why Ms. Cook says things like “As Mary Kay stated in her 1995 book You Can Have It All.”

The lawsuit claims that only two or three chapters of the book are original content, and everything else is paraphrasing or copying of Mary Kay’s books or stories gathered from other employees or consultants.

I am amused at how Mary Kay complains that it wants to protect consultants “from wrongfully feeling pressure to purchase the book.” Why doesn’t the company protect consultants from “wrongfully feeling pressure” to purchase Mary Kay products that they don’t need and won’t be able to sell?

Mary Kay Inc. claims that they will suffer the following harm because of the book: loss of sales, damage to the value of its IP, harm to the goodwill associated with its family of brands, and damage to its existing and potential business relations. That’s right. A glowing book about Mary Kay Ash is going to damage the company and they’re going to lose money.

The lawsuit claims that consultants are violating their agreements with the company because the agreement prohibits them from promoting, distributing, or selling products that are not official Mary Kay Products. I find no such language in the consultant agreement.

And they say Jennifer Bickel Cook used Mary Kay’s proprietary information (apparently MK’s other books) to compete with Mary Kay. She also had a duty to not divulge trade secrets or proprietary information that she received in the course of her employment. This is a little curious to me because they say her book isn’t her own and that it’s mostly quotes from other published books and stories, but then they say she’s divulged some secret information. What is this secret information????

Of course, Mary Kay Inc. wants an injunction prohibiting the book from being sold, removing any reference to Mary Kay’s products or quotes from MK’s books, getting Google to take down anything associating Ms. Cook and Mary Kay with one another, and not getting consultants to violate their agreements. You can bet that very shortly Mary Kay will file for a TRO (temporary restraining order) to try to stop Ms. Cook from selling any more books until after this lawsuit is over.

Petty, petty, petty, Mary Kay.

22 Comments

  1. Ruby Slippers

    Smh…almost makes me want to buy the book, but I’m purging MK from my life
    Also this:
    “The lawsuit claims that consultants are violating their agreements with the company because the agreement prohibits them from promoting, distributing, or selling products that are not official Mary Kay Products. I find no such language in the consultant agreement”
    So what about Dacia peddling non MK products constantly on IG and monetizing her IG account not with “Like it to know it” and all her sponsored products .
    No, she is still a cash 💰 cow for Corp so they look the other way.

  2. cindylu

    Thinking of buying this book and donating it to the library so everyone gets to read it. MK’s control freak tactics are endlessly petty. By now Ms Cook and any other employee (Past or Present) should be very uncomfortable to be associated by such an uncaring mlm. This woman gave many years of service and the heirs etc. repay her by treating her with contempt and criticism. So many narcissists trying to control everyone affiliated with them through gaslighting and attacking. It’s as though others are like four year olds to be scolded, belittled and put in their place. How dare anyone profit from their own life’s work? For goodness sake books have been written about royals and celebrities. MK is not that important overall. This attack of a dedicated employee is laughable.

    1. NayMKWay

      MK Corp is probably pissed they weren’t offered a cut of the book’s profits. What a load of crap.

      The most galling part is that in Texas courts, MKC always seem to get their way, no matter how outlandish their claims.

      10
  3. Parsonsgreen

    How many people would have heard of this book if this lawsuit had not been filed? How many on the fence consultants will hear about this lawsuit and see this as their validation that MK Corp never has their best interest at heart ?

    1. Char

      Ah yes, “The Streisand effect”.

      “The Streisand effect is an example of psychological reactance, wherein once people are aware that some information is being kept from them, they are significantly more motivated to access and spread that information.

      The Streisand effect is a phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove, or censor information has the unintended consequence of increasing awareness of that information, often via the Internet. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress the California Coastal Records Project photograph of her residence in Malibu, California, taken to document California coastal erosion, inadvertently drew greater attention to it in 2003.”

  4. AnonyMouse

    By this logic, if any director or consultant suggests any book that isn’t written by Mary Kay Ash to other consultants, they’re violating their agreement. What’s next? Try this brand of pantyhose, they don’t get runs, oops, violated your agreement. These shoes are really comfortable for walking around Seminar, oops, violated your agreement. This brand of cotton rounds is great for applying product during demonstrations, oops, violated your agreement. If this lawsuit goes in Mary Kay’s favor, where does it end?

  5. Pinkblacksheep

    What’s fascinating about the whole quoting Mary Kay thing is that almost nothing Mary Kay said was original. She loved to quote and paraphrase Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and others without attribution. At my first events I thought, Mary Kay didn’t say that… remembering reading those words in someone else’s book.

  6. Lazy Gardens

    Proprietary information – they apparently don’t know what that is. “Ms. Cook signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) during her employment, and she agreed not to use proprietary information to her own benefit or to disclose that proprietary information.”

    Anecdotes about a person who has been DeAD FOR TWENTY YEARS is not proprietary information! “Proprietary information, also known as a trade secret, is information a company wishes to keep confidential. Proprietary information can include secret formulas, processes, and methods used in production. It can also include a company’s business and marketing plans, salary structure, customer lists, contracts, and details of its computer systems. In some cases, the special knowledge and skills that an employee has learned on the job are considered to be a company’s proprietary information.”

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