Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2019

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Singer alleges Barbie doll made in her likeness

The latest infringement lawsuit involving the international Hard Rock casino and cafe brand was filed Thursday by HorrorPops lead singer Patricia Day, who claims Hard Rock and Mattel Inc. have been selling a Barbie doll in the image of Day but without her authorization.

Day filed suit in federal court in Indianapolis against Barbie-maker Mattel and Hard Rock Cafe International Inc. of Orlando, charging infringement of the right of publicity and false endorsement.

Hard Rock Cafe is owned by Florida’s Seminole Indian tribe. The company has two cafes in Las Vegas and others around the world and casinos in parts of the United States. The Las Vegas Hard Rock hotel-casino is owned by other parties and uses the Hard Rock name under a licensing arrangement.

Day, in her lawsuit, charges that in recent months Mattel and Hard Rock have released a series of rock ‘n’ roll-themed Barbies featuring pioneering female musicians including Debbie Harry of Blondie, Joan Jett and Cyndi Lauper.

Another doll, called the “Hard Rock Cafe Barbie Doll,” is made in the image of Day but lacks any direct acknowledgement of Day, the lawsuit charges.

“Day has provided no authorization to defendants for the use of her likeness in any manner, let alone for the creation and sale of a Barbie doll,” the suit charges.

“It is not surprising that defendants never approached Patricia Day about the Hard Rock Barbie, since Day is a feminist musical pioneer — an intelligent, outspoken, anti-establishment female artist in an industry still dominated by the erotic ‘male gaze,’” the suit charges. “Day has always expressed her desire to redefine women’s roles in the rock ‘n roll scene — a vision that runs contrary and antithetical to everything for which Mattel’s Barbie doll line stands.”

“Since the release of the Hard Rock Barbie, Day has been repeatedly approached by fans who have been perplexed by the striking resemblance of the Hard Rock Barbie to Day’s likeness and persona and who have expressed disappointment in their (mistaken) belief that Day would permit such a use of her likeness and personna for a purpose that is so at odds with her values and the values of her fans,” the lawsuit charges.

Hard Rock and Mattel have not yet responded to the lawsuit, which demands the defendants stop selling the doll in question and pay Day their profits from the doll sales. A Hard Rock spokesman said he was unaware of the newly-filed suit and that the company typically doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The suit describes Day, a citizen of Denmark now living in the United States, as leading the HorrorPops’ “critically acclaimed and innovative” rockabilly music achievements.

It says she’s known for her black hair meticulously done in 50s pin-up fashion, heavily-applied black eye shadow, deep red lipstick, form-fitting 50s-style pencil skirts, tatoos on her upper arms and her giant tatooed upright bass — allegedly features shared by the Hard Rock’s Barbie doll.

The doll at issue, also known as the “Rockabilly Barbie,” is shown online at a Hard Rock site and a Barbie collectors site.

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