Mattel squares off against lesbian Barbie

For years now Barbie has been a major success for Mattell. Barbie is placed at no. 97 of the top 100 most important trademark in the world. Naturally her good image must be protected at all times. Argentine art couple Breno Costa en Guilherme Souza however, decided to make a Barbie calendar in which she poses with her lesbian lover. Mattell, of course, strongly disproves of this calendar, but how successful would a lawsuit in the Netherlands be?

The protection of Barbie’s physical characteristics falls under the scope of copyright. Unfortunately according to copyright legislation a parody is permitted. However, a parody should never unnecessarily damage the reputation of the original product or the reputation of its creator. Furthermore, a parody should never have a commercial or competitive element to it. It is therefore not allowed to make fun of the competition.

The calendar may be considered a work of art, one that protests our society and the use of sex as means of sale. Because of this contradiction a parody on Barbie could possibly be reasoned. Although the parody exception may give relief in some cases, it is a tricky business. Especially if a parody is being used by a competitor.


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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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