Barbie is proving a costly commodity for toymaker Mattel who have just lost their most recent legal battle to preserve the honour of their world-famous doll.
The company had filed suit against an artist after taking exception to his use of Barbie in a collection of photographs that were part of a critique of 'the materialistic and gender-oppressive values' the dolls are accused of embodying. Little could the first Barbies in 1959 have known that they would come to be held responsible for 20th century gender oppression.
Mattel wanted to preserve Barbie's dignity and also ensure that its customers did not associate the company with such politicisation if its dolls.
Utah based artist Tom Forsythe started this saga with his collection of photos that sought to sexualise Barbie. At the centre of the dispute was a photo in which four Barbie dolls had been subjected to the harrowing ordeal of being wrapped in tortillas and thrown in the oven to produce 'Barbie Enchiladas'.
Mattel, which lost its case against Forsythe back in December has now been ordered to pay legal fees and court costs in excess of 1.8 million dollars. Not only did the appeal court judges rule that the artist had a first amendment right to parody the dolls but went on to say that Mattel's lawsuit 'may have been groundless and unreasoanble'. Harsh words for the defender of the dolls' dignity.
Mattel has not had much luck in the courts when it comes to protecting Barbie. Back in 2002 a court ruled that bondage Barbie or 'Dungeon Doll' as her UK creator called her was not an infringement of Barbie's copyright.
Further Barbie court cases