Clash of the Titans: when US toymaking giants collide

Clash of the Titans: when US toymaking giants collide Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 2018, Vol. 13, No. 6 IP IN REVIEW 513 IP in Review which were exposed to widespread shock at the Barbie/ Clash of the Titans: when US toymaking Bratz trial. giants collide Interwoven through the text are also the author’s keen Natasha Rao* observations on US copyright and IP law at large. She paints a convincing picture of an environment in which small innovators hesitate to explore any ideas based on ex- You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA isting products, for fear of the unpredictability of the US Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side ‘fair use’ doctrine and of how US courts will assess origi- Orly Lobel nality and protectability. In one memorable anecdote, W.W. Norton & Co., 2018 Lobel cites the example of a The Cat in the Hat / O.J. ISBN: 978-03932-5407-5, hard cover, pp. 304 Simpson crossover book (‘One knife?/Two knife?/Red £20.00 knife/Dead wife’) to illustrate how blurry the line is be- tween parody (which is covered by fair use) and satire (which is not). The author also makes logical and incisive It is perhaps rare, when taking stock of an influential or comments about the interaction of IP and employment landmark case, for the intellectual property practitioner to law. For example, she reports with concern that—as a re- consider the individual players involved in that dispute: sult of the Barbie/Bratz judgments—US employers are Who were they? What motivated them? What effect did now including broader and broader IP assignment provi- the case have on their lives and relationships? In You sions in employment contracts, to the point where they Don’t Own Me, however, this is precisely the driving force cover ideas not even protectable by IP law. behind the author’s work. In her epilogue, Lobel passionately urges the IP com- Lobel gives a profoundly human account of the block- munity to recognize the increasing corporate abuse of IP buster litigation that took place over a decade (2004–14) litigation, which—she convincingly argues—prevents po- between Mattel and MGA, the respective owners of the tential innovation and leads to mutual destruction (the globally celebrated Barbie and Bratz dolls. Mattel designer Barbie/Bratz litigation, for example, led to the parties in- Carter Bryant’s decision to sell his Bratz sketches to MGA curring some $600 million in legal costs). She implores us is described within the context of his frustrations at to remember that IP law was originally intended to en- Mattel and his own stifled creativity. The trials themselves courage diverse and creative content, and calls for— are depicted as a personal battle between the two company among other things—a more narrow interpretation of CEOs and their (very different) belief systems, presided what is protectable by copyright. While I would have en- over by a succession of colourful and opinionated judges. joyed learning more about the author’s own views and Lobel writes a compelling narrative of how these charac- proposals on copyright reform, the message conveyed in ters interacted and developed throughout the Barbie/Bratz You Don’t Own Me is clear, consistent and admirable in story, with impressive detail and authority. its intent. The book also gives the reader uncommon insight into An engaging and entertaining book with a strong mes- the inner workings of Barbie’s intellectual property ma- sage at its centre, You Don’t Own Me is a highly recom- chine. One chapter gives a fascinating account of Mattel’s mended read for those interested in exploring the ways in prior lawsuits, pursued aggressively against anyone from which giant corporates use and manipulate IP law (and Danish band Aqua (for their one-time hit ‘Barbie Girl’), reading numerous amusing anecdotes in the process). to any artist who dared to portray Barbie as unwholesome, or unAmerican (or, as in one case, a rubber-clad domina- doi:10.1093/jiplp/jpy036 trix). Lobel also discloses full details of Mattel’s controver- Advance Access Publication 13 March 2018 sial corporate espionage network, including its ‘How to Steal’ manual and its use of disguises at toy fairs, all of * Email: natasha.rao@allenovery.com. V C The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jiplp/article-abstract/13/6/513/4934151 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 20 June 2018 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice Oxford University Press

Clash of the Titans: when US toymaking giants collide

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
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1747-1532
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10.1093/jiplp/jpy036
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Abstract

Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 2018, Vol. 13, No. 6 IP IN REVIEW 513 IP in Review which were exposed to widespread shock at the Barbie/ Clash of the Titans: when US toymaking Bratz trial. giants collide Interwoven through the text are also the author’s keen Natasha Rao* observations on US copyright and IP law at large. She paints a convincing picture of an environment in which small innovators hesitate to explore any ideas based on ex- You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA isting products, for fear of the unpredictability of the US Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side ‘fair use’ doctrine and of how US courts will assess origi- Orly Lobel nality and protectability. In one memorable anecdote, W.W. Norton & Co., 2018 Lobel cites the example of a The Cat in the Hat / O.J. ISBN: 978-03932-5407-5, hard cover, pp. 304 Simpson crossover book (‘One knife?/Two knife?/Red £20.00 knife/Dead wife’) to illustrate how blurry the line is be- tween parody (which is covered by fair use) and satire (which is not). The author also makes logical and incisive It is perhaps rare, when taking stock of an influential or comments about the interaction of IP and employment landmark case, for the intellectual property practitioner to law. For example, she reports with concern that—as a re- consider the individual players involved in that dispute: sult of the Barbie/Bratz judgments—US employers are Who were they? What motivated them? What effect did now including broader and broader IP assignment provi- the case have on their lives and relationships? In You sions in employment contracts, to the point where they Don’t Own Me, however, this is precisely the driving force cover ideas not even protectable by IP law. behind the author’s work. In her epilogue, Lobel passionately urges the IP com- Lobel gives a profoundly human account of the block- munity to recognize the increasing corporate abuse of IP buster litigation that took place over a decade (2004–14) litigation, which—she convincingly argues—prevents po- between Mattel and MGA, the respective owners of the tential innovation and leads to mutual destruction (the globally celebrated Barbie and Bratz dolls. Mattel designer Barbie/Bratz litigation, for example, led to the parties in- Carter Bryant’s decision to sell his Bratz sketches to MGA curring some $600 million in legal costs). She implores us is described within the context of his frustrations at to remember that IP law was originally intended to en- Mattel and his own stifled creativity. The trials themselves courage diverse and creative content, and calls for— are depicted as a personal battle between the two company among other things—a more narrow interpretation of CEOs and their (very different) belief systems, presided what is protectable by copyright. While I would have en- over by a succession of colourful and opinionated judges. joyed learning more about the author’s own views and Lobel writes a compelling narrative of how these charac- proposals on copyright reform, the message conveyed in ters interacted and developed throughout the Barbie/Bratz You Don’t Own Me is clear, consistent and admirable in story, with impressive detail and authority. its intent. The book also gives the reader uncommon insight into An engaging and entertaining book with a strong mes- the inner workings of Barbie’s intellectual property ma- sage at its centre, You Don’t Own Me is a highly recom- chine. One chapter gives a fascinating account of Mattel’s mended read for those interested in exploring the ways in prior lawsuits, pursued aggressively against anyone from which giant corporates use and manipulate IP law (and Danish band Aqua (for their one-time hit ‘Barbie Girl’), reading numerous amusing anecdotes in the process). to any artist who dared to portray Barbie as unwholesome, or unAmerican (or, as in one case, a rubber-clad domina- doi:10.1093/jiplp/jpy036 trix). Lobel also discloses full details of Mattel’s controver- Advance Access Publication 13 March 2018 sial corporate espionage network, including its ‘How to Steal’ manual and its use of disguises at toy fairs, all of * Email: natasha.rao@allenovery.com. V C The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jiplp/article-abstract/13/6/513/4934151 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 20 June 2018

Journal

Journal of Intellectual Property Law & PracticeOxford University Press

Published: Mar 13, 2018

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