This episode of IP Goes Pop!®, takes you on a journey through the iconic world of the Barbie universe and brand, exploring its deep-rooted connections with pop culture and intellectual property law. Hop in the dream car and journey with Volpe Koenig Shareholders and podcast hosts, Michael Snyder and Joseph Gushue to a land of pink corvettes, with a few pitstops at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Kicking off with a discussion of the recent cinematic triumphs of the Barbie movie released this year (2023), your hosts delve into how this classic brand has been brought to life on the big screen captivating audiences around the globe.
Travel back in time to the inception of Mattel Toys to unravel the origin of Barbie, and the complex legal history behind the doll's inception and success. Learn the true story behind the doll's "inspiration." Discover how storied brands like Barbie have been able to register colors with their trademarks along with the legal parameters and precedents for doing so.
Listeners will navigate through the pivotal role of patents in safeguarding the Barbie doll brand, highlighting the contributions of rocket scientist turned toy doll inventor, John Ryan, and the key developments in toy doll mobility.
Barbie's IP journey continues with your hosts exploring a legal battle involving trade secrets, focusing on the fierce competition between Mattel and MGA Entertainment over the Bratz dolls. Here the focus is on the critical concepts of "work for hire," "non-disclosure agreements," and "exit interviews," as keys to protecting trade secrets in any industry.
Approaching the end of this enlightening journey, Michael and Joe explore the intersection of copyright law and the Barbie brand, analyzing the legal nuances of parody in copyright law through the lens of the infamous "Barbie Girl" song by Aqua and its repercussions in the legal world. They also touch upon the 2023 updated, "Barbie World" by Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, which samples Aqua's song, offering a fresh perspective on the ever-evolving relationship between pop culture and IP law.
The episode wraps up with final thoughts on the complex yet fascinating relationship between the Barbie brand and all aspects of intellectual property law, celebrating the impressive achievements of Barbie in the world of IP. Tune in to this episode of IP Goes POP! and immerse yourself in the captivating (legal) world of Barbie, a brand that has left an indelible mark on both pop culture and the realm of intellectual property.
- Ruth Handler, Elliot Handler, and Harold Mattson
- German-made Lilli Doll
- Merchandising Barbie and Her Accessories
- 1959 Trade Show Debut
- "Barbie" (1959) and "Ken" (1961) name origins
7:58 IP in the Barbie Universe: Trademarks
- Protecting a color as a trademark
- Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Prods. Co. (1995) – a case that demonstrated the concepts of secondary meaning or acquired distinctiveness
- Barbie Pink trademark
- Brands with registered colors
12:05 IP in the Barbie Universe: Patents
- John "Jack" Ryan, rocket scientist and Barbie inventor
- Mattel and Lilli Doll Settlement
19:05 IP in the Barbie Universe: Trade Secrets
- Bratz Dolls
- Mattel Inc. v. MGA Entertainment (2004-10)
- Work for hire
- Non-disclosure agreements
- Toy Industry Trade Shows
24:20 IP in the Barbie Universe: Copyright
- Aqua's "Barbie Girl" song and music video
- Mattel Inc. v. MCA Records (2002)
- 2023 Song "Barbie World" by Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice
- Samples Aqua's "Barbie Girl"
29:56 Final Thoughts
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.