Is Barbie just a brat? Does the UK IPO hold the key?

Hello Dolly

The BBC (and lots of others) report that the trial which says the makers of Barbie, Mattel, take on MGA, the makers of the Bratz dolls in the US. The claim isn't that the Bratz are too similar to Barbie. Instead, it's that Mattel actually owns the rights to the Bratz dolls because their designer was working for Mattel at the time the dolls were thought up and then defected to MGA.

The IPKat notes that this one's a jury trial, just to add that little wildcard factor.

Does this describe a key?

The UKIPO thinks it does (see decision here). According to Mr Hearing Officer Pike, "In relation to the goods in question [“Metal keys, metal key blanks, metal locks (other than electric)”] it is my view that this mark will be perceived as no more than an outline of a key." The Hearing Officer drew attention to the fact that shops which offered a range of goods (rather than being specialist key cutters) might need to use such images to draw attention to the fact that they also cut keys.

The IPKat reckons that this is one of the relatively rare decisions where the need to keep certain marks free under s.3(1)(c) has actually made a difference. He's not sure though. Will consumers really see this as the outline of a key? Even if they do, isn't it just a part of a key, which gives it a sort of abstract quality?

Is Barbie just a brat? Does the UK IPO hold the key? Is Barbie just a brat? Does the UK IPO hold the key? Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, May 29, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. So is the key the part above, or the part below the line?

  2. KABA is a famous manufacturer of key/lock products. This mark looks to me like KABA in special script. Where did the mark KABA come from, I wonder.

  3. Interesting that you say that Maxdrei - one of the applicant's argument was that this was the outline of a name, but they said that the name was TARA not KABA.The Hearing Officer wasn't convinced. If you stare at it long enough you can sort of see it, but then you can also sort of see KABA too, so I'm not sure that I'm convinced either!

  4. It looks like LARA to me!

  5. Let's be positive. The answer to Robert Seddon's question must be Yes.

  6. Let's be positive. The answer to Robert Seddon's question must be Yes.


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