Toy maker Mattel Inc. has opened a lawsuit against the creator of the beloved Hip-Hop potato chips, Rap Snacks. The creator of the iconic Barbie franchise is suing the potato chip brand for trademark infringement on its Nicki Minaj “Barbie-Que” Honey Truffle flavor. The chip’s logo allegedly violates Mattel’s trademark rights to the “Barbie” logo.
According to the court documents shared by Reuters, Mattel’s lawsuit was filed on Thursday (Aug. 11) and includes one count of federal unfair competition and false designation of origin, one count of federal trademark dilution, and a singular count of state unfair competition violation. In the suit, the company’s legal team states, “Rap Snacks made the deliberate and calculated choice to launch a new product line using Mattel’s famous Barbie trademark.”
The Miami-based potato chip brand has been known for paying homage to several rappers with their own signature bag. Rappers like Snoop Dogg, Master P, Migos, Cardi B, and more have been a part of the snack franchise. Mattel stated in court that the newly launched Minaj “Barbie-Que” chips created customer confusion and a skewed association with the “Barbie” brand. It also claims that Rap Snacks did not gain authorization from Mattel and refused to eliminate the name of the Minaj-signature bag nor “correct the misimpression it foisted on the public.” Mattel alleges that the chip brand’s actions were “purposely” deceitful.
Claiming that even Minaj’s team reached out to Rap Snacks about the legality of the trademark, the lawsuit states, “The association is so evident that upon seeing the packaging, representatives for Defendant’s celebrity partner queried whether Rap Snacks had obtained permission from Mattel.
The Rap Snacks packaging incorporates the signature pink color and unique Barbie font. Mattel made sure to mention that it actually makes its own snacks under the “Barbie” trademark, which can further increase confusion. “Defendant’s blatant and intentional use of Mattel’s trademark will cause consumers to associate the Defendant’s products with Mattel and its Barbie brand,” the complaint states. It adds, “For decades, Mattel’s Barbie has been one of the world’s most well-known and recognizable brands.”
Deeming Rap Snacks’ effort as “unlawful,” the suit says, “As a result, Mattel has been forced to bring this lawsuit to defend its rights to the Barbie brand because Defendant Rap Snacks impermissibly traded off, and continues to trade off, the value and goodwill of Mattel’s famous trademark.”
“Rap Snacks never requested or received any such permission from Mattel. Rap Snacks proceeded to launch its product line anyway,” the claim states. Disregarding the legality of trademark usage, Mattel claims RS advertised the snack, “on a New York City billboard, promotional potato chip giveaways at a music festival in New Orleans, and an exclusive article announcing the launch in People magazine.”
Ultimately, Mattel wants a judge to clearly state the violation and stop the brand from producing and marketing the “Barbie-Que” chips. The suit asks for permanent removal from any advertising or physical product bearing the “Barbie-Que” logo from any location, “including any website, grocery store, or retail outlet.” Mattel also wants Rap Snacks to cancel their trademark registrations for the “Barbie-Que” name and be awarded “all profits derived by Defendant Rap Snacks.”
It has also been noted that Minaj is not a defendant in the claim and that Universal Music did not comment on the lawsuit. The “Barbe Tingz” rapstress has used “Barbie” as a moniker for years, and has collaborated with Mattel on a doll in 2011.