Fashion is fashion, whether we are talking about the ‘human’ world or the world of dolls, and takes no prisoners.
A particularly interesting case in terms of ‘fashion‘ and ‘IP‘ (Intellectual Property) has been the subject of discussion in recent weeks: the two sides of this story are Barbie and Burberry, two names that already represent icons, in one way or another, in the fashion universe. Starting with the world’s best-selling doll, whose shades of pink and hot pink have guided the styles of several generations. And all the more so today, since the world of Barbie is literally about to come to life, with the faces of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, already acclaimed protagonists of the new Greta Gerwig‘s film ‘Barbie’ being released in cinemas right now.
But back to the matter at hand: Burberry’s application to register the BRBY trade mark, filed with the USPTO in July 2022, was a big deal. An application that Barbie (i.e. Mattel, the US toy company which produces the iconinc doll) seems not to have particularly appreciated.
Why? The trademark filed by the British fashion house would be too similar to the name Barbie, illegitimately piggybacking on its notoriety and also risking to cause consumer confusion. Let us not forget, in fact, that the ‘Barbie’ trade mark has also been registered for clothing and bags (not only for toys), and above all that the Barbie brand has been making a comeback in recent months thanks to the release of Greta Gerwig‘s film.
In June, Mattel decided to officially file an opposition with the USPTO to prevent the registration of the BRBY mark, arguing that it could lead consumers to think that Burberry clothing, bags and other accessories are actually associated with Mattel’s Barbie dolls.
Also upsetting Barbie and her entourage was the timing of Burberry’s launch of the new brand.
After a few years of tarnishing, in fact, in which the doll par excellence had been accused of no longer representing the ideal of the modern woman, the arrival of the film with its stellar cast completely relaunched the brand, giving new life to the so-called #Barbiecore phenomenon.
Barbiecore is basically a trend that preaches an ‘all-pink’ style, whereby one dresses in shades of pink or hot pink from head to toe, just like Barbie, and it is a fact that many celebrities (from Megan Fox to Paris Hilton), influencers (such as Kim Kardashian or Hailey Bieber) and even fashion houses such as Valentino seem perfectly aligned on re-proposing outfits of this type.
This is the reason for the more mischievous claim that Burberry’s timing for the launch of the new BRBY brand is at least suspicious, given the growing return to this trend linked to the launch of the film. And to think that only a few years ago, in the early 2000s, Barbie and Burberry crowned a love affair that led to the development of an ad hoc limited edition doll. Who knows, after the now obvious rift between the parties, some far-sighted collector who had managed to snap up ‘Barbie Burberry’ might see the price of their doll, which is now selling for around USD 200 on ebay, to skyrocket.
Last minute update. Apparently the opposition was suspended, pending negotiations between the parties. Perhaps a licensing deal will ensue? After all, fashion takes no prisoners, but likes ransoms….