Mattel Sues Porn Queen China Barbie of ChinaBarbie.Com

Earlier this month, Mattel, which makes Barbie dolls, was forced to recall millions of toys that were made in China because of lead paint and loose magnets.

So what's their next step in recovering from possible lost revenues? To attack porn star "China Barbie" of ChinaBarbie.com of course.

Rather than focusing on their own legal problems, the major US corporation has decided to take aim at suing porn queen China Barbie for her comparatively nominal monetary assets.

"The site's been up for like five years, so it's like why are they coming after me right now?" she questioned recently of the trademark-infringement lawsuit leveled at her Web site ChinaBarbie.com by the California-based toymaker.

"It's because they're in trouble right now with the lead poisoning thing, and everyone's been Googling it and that's how they found out about the site," she told Hasani Gittens of The New York Post in a recent interview.

"I'm not marketing myself to children, in any way shape or form," said China Barbie, whose real name is Terri Gibson.

Regardless of what the outcome of this recent lawsuit will be, long time fans of China Barbie are rallying around many through her website and her Adult Yahoo! Group.

The tactic being undertaken by Mattel is especially questionable in this case. Often intellectual property owners who file lawsuits in similar circumstances often lose the case.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and US Federal Courts generally opins that personal names meant and used as the identification of an individual does not give rise to infringement or damages unless the individual is seeking to identify with and purposefully using intellectual property of the complainant. Which, China Barbie is not.

'Barbie' is a common name, but is also a Trademark owned by Mattel for certain purposes, and has certain limitations. 'China', of course cannot be trademarked for a myriad of reasons but essentially that it is the name of a country and thus too 'generic'.
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However, the mixed 'word mark' of "China Barbie" would, likely, be a valid registration - if it wasn't the current subject of objection. Many onlookers could bet that Mattel's intellectual property attorneys are working over time to register, "Barbie of China", "China Barbie", "Chinese Barbie", or similar word marks to arm themselves in this campaign.

This still forgets that Miss Barbie is using the name as a personal moniker without seeking to use or infringe on Mattel's intellectual property. Any long term court battle would likely end up ruling against Mattel, in Barbie's favor.

Even the domain name that Mattel is fussing over - which is part of the lawsuit - does not enhance the claim. Domain Name System (DNS) Registrar that allowed China Barbie to register and use ChinaBarbie.com, stands strongly on a first come, first served basis.

Mattel had the opportunity to spend their millions long before China Barbie to buy up any domains they felt might represent a threat to their intellectual property (IP) rights. That might sound ominous for owners of intellectual property, but it is not; if Miss Barbie had used the domain in question to some how infringe on the IP rights of Mattel they could contest it. However usually the first step is making a complaint with Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) an arbitration board provided by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) before taking it to the US Federal Courts.

In either case - for successful prosecution by the plaintiff - she would have had to use Mattel images, products or advertising to promote her site, which she hasn't.

Unlike Barbie, Mattel hasn't got legs in this case. So why are they bothering to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute this case?

It could be summarized by keywords: "China, Barbie, production, lead, trade, labor, paint, magnets, Mattel" versus what you might find by just searching on "China Barbie". For Mattel it is a public relations action - while they are being lambasted in the West for producing in a 'trade' pariah like 'China' a 'product' that might be dangerous because of 'lead' or 'paint', Mattel's PR guru's can turn the attention on this "slut, porn star" who is misusing their good, honorable name.

Often the methodology of larger businesses and corporations is to 'bleed' your victim through litigation. Smaller organizations - like China Barbie - have no where near the resources to successfully fight an attack from a company like Mattel.

Mattel and their IP attorneys might realize that they have no valid litigation against China Barbie that would recover damages, but the job is not to recover assets. The job is public relations, disinformation and redirection.

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