U.S. Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc.

June 13, 2003 Advisory

On January 27, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894 (9th Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 123 S.Ct. 993 (2003), a case in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the First Amendment protected the producers of the song Barbie Girl from a trademark infringement and dilution action by the owner of the BARBIE GIRL trademark. In 1997, the band Aqua released Barbie Girl, MCA Records 1997, a song depicting a day in the life of "a Barbie girl." In the song, a male and a female singer, calling themselves Ken and Barbie, decide to "go party." At various points in the song, the lyrics are sexually suggestive. After the song became popular, Mattel, the owner of the BARBIE GIRL trademark, brought an action against MCA Records and other companies that produced, marketed, and sold Barbie Girl for trademark infringement under the Lanham Act and trademark dilution under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act.