Mattel Sues Sunny Leone Film for Using ‘Barbie’ Trademark

Mattel alleged that the song used their trademark without their permission and in a manner antagonistic to its customers' values.


The Delhi High Court refused to grant ex-parte injunction against the Hindi movie Tera Intezaar over a case filed by toymaking company Mattel Inc. against the use of its Barbie trademark in a song. Mattel, the makers of the Barbie doll, filed a case against the film for using their trademark in a song that features actress Sunny Leone.

Mattel approached the Delhi High Court regarding the matter and was reminded earlier this week that they had been asked by a U.S. court to “chill” in a similar case.

Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw refused to grant ex-parte injunction against the movie, which has a song titled Barbie girl. He instructed on Nov. 22 that a notice should be issued to the defendants, and told Mattel that they could ask the filmmakers to delete the word “Barbie” and if they refused to do so they would be liable to pay damages. Mattel owns the Barbie trademark, it said in court.

The song’s title and lyrics used the trademark without the company’s permission and “in a manner antagonistic to the values and interests of the customers target base, the plaintiffs cater to,” the toymaker said.

The firm also said that the actress in the song — Sunny Leone — is a prominent figure in the adult entertainment industry and that the song was not appropriate for children. Such attributes “are provocative and inappropriate for younger girls and children, tarnishing and degrading the distinctive quality of the mark ‘BARBIE’,” it said in the appeal.

“If after a film has been so cleared by CBFC, the Courts were to act as super Censor Board at the mere asking, it will have the potential of imposing arbitrary and at times irrational prior restraints causing severe damage to the right of freedom and expression,” Justice Endlaw said.

He added, “There is another reason for which I am of the opinion that no case for grant of ex parte order sought, restraining the defendants from releasing the film Tera Intezaar with the impugned song, ought not to be granted. The newspapers and the stories on the electronic news media in the country are today widely broadcasting the demand by one section of the society for a ban to another film. The petitions filed in the Supreme Court in this regard have not met with any success and have been disposed of as premature owing to the CBFC having not granted certificate to the film as yet. I am of the opinion that grant of any order as sought is likely to send a wrong signal to the public at large.”

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