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Barbie Wins in Ninth Circuit


— December 22, 2003

Judge Clifton begins his opinion in Mattel, Inc. v. Greiner and Hausser, published this morning, as follows:

Barbie, the ubiquitous doll produced by Mattel, has been a regular visitor to our court. This time she brings with her an issue of personal jurisdiction � not over her, but over a German toy company which has questioned her ancestry by
asserting that Barbie was a copy of its doll and that Mattel had infringed its patent and other intellectual property rights. The German company, Greiner & Hausser GmbH (�G&H�), previously asserted claims to that effect in a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Los Angeles in 1961, more than 40 years ago. That lawsuit was resolved by a dismissal with prejudice of those and other claims. Today, Barbie generates over $2 billion in wholesale revenues each year, a sum which helps to explain why Barbie comes to visit us so frequently. It presumably also helps to explain why a lawsuit was filed in Germany in May 2001 by G&H, claiming that it had been defrauded by Mattel when it entered into a set of related agreements with Mattel in 1964, shortly after the dismissal of the previous California litigation, and seeking damages in the form of a royalty on every Barbie doll sold since that time.

The Court reversed the dismissal of Barbie’s suit in the District Court: “We conclude that the subject matter of Mattel�s current lawsuit � which concerns and is essentially defined by the claims currently asserted by G&H in Germany � is sufficiently related to the action filed in California by G&H in 1961 to support personal jurisdiction over G&H in the current case, at least at this stage of the proceedings.”

I noted some of Barbie’s earlier legal problems here and here.


Judge Clifton begins his opinion in Mattel, Inc. v. Greiner and Hausser, published this morning, as follows:

Barbie, the ubiquitous doll produced by Mattel, has been a regular visitor to our court. This time she brings with her an issue of personal jurisdiction � not over her, but over a German toy company which has questioned her ancestry by
asserting that Barbie was a copy of its doll and that Mattel had infringed its patent and other intellectual property rights. The German company, Greiner & Hausser GmbH (�G&H�), previously asserted claims to that effect in a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Los Angeles in 1961, more than 40 years ago. That lawsuit was resolved by a dismissal with prejudice of those and other claims. Today, Barbie generates over $2 billion in wholesale revenues each year, a sum which helps to explain why Barbie comes to visit us so frequently. It presumably also helps to explain why a lawsuit was filed in Germany in May 2001 by G&H, claiming that it had been defrauded by Mattel when it entered into a set of related agreements with Mattel in 1964, shortly after the dismissal of the previous California litigation, and seeking damages in the form of a royalty on every Barbie doll sold since that time.

The Court reversed the dismissal of Barbie’s suit in the District Court: “We conclude that the subject matter of Mattel�s current lawsuit � which concerns and is essentially defined by the claims currently asserted by G&H in Germany � is sufficiently related to the action filed in California by G&H in 1961 to support personal jurisdiction over G&H in the current case, at least at this stage of the proceedings.”

I noted some of Barbie’s earlier legal problems here and here.

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