Mattel, the maker of the iconic Barbie doll, has filed an opposition to Burberry's application for a federal trademark for 'BRBY', claiming that it is too similar to its own brand and could cause confusion among consumers.
Burberry, a British luxury fashion house, applied for the 'BRBY' trademark last year for clothing, bags, and other products. Mattel argues that the mark is visually similar and phonetically identical to 'Barbie', which is has used since 1956 for dolls and related merchandise, as well as clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, and a live-action movie.
Mattel says that 'BRBY' could be seen as a subset or expansion of the Barbie trademarks, and that it would dilute its brand value and reputation. It also cites several instances of actual confusion between the two marks, such as online searches and social media posts.
Burberry has not yet responded to Mattel's opposition, which was filed on Monday at the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The fashion house has until August 27 to file an answer or request an extension.
This is not the first time that Mattle has clashed with another company over its Barbie brand. In 2002, it sued MCA Records over the song 'Barbie Girl' by Aqua, alleging that it infringed its trademarks and portrayed Barbie as a sex object. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal court, which ruled that the song was protected as a parody under the First Amendment.
Mattle has also faced legal challenges from other parties, such as Tom Forsythe, an artist who used Barbie dolls in his controversial works, and Frida Kahlo's family, who objected to a Barbie doll modeled after the Mexican painter.
Mattle reported losses for the first quarter of 2023 due to increasing production costs and a drop in sales. It said that its worldwide gross billings for Barbie fell 41%, but that it expected its financial situation to improve later this year.