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Barbie's kinky rival wins first court battle

BARBIE dolls have been a favourite with teenage girls for 40 years, but now the wholesome image of the blonde US icon is under threat from a rival doll-maker who has made a risqué version of the children’s toy.

English doll maker Susanne Pitt has incensed toy makers Mattel by producing a kinky version of the product that is scantily clad and comes complete with leather face mask, leather boots as well as revealing her breasts.

In a bid to halt further production of the so-called "Dungeon Doll," which is made with the head of Superstar Barbie, Mattel has taken Ms Pitt to court in Manhattan insisting that the doll is an infringement of its copyright.

But so far the less traditional version of the doll appears to be winning in its efforts to get itself manufactured on the grounds that the Barbie doll image is too wholesome to merit confusion with the new product.

Manhattan federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain surprised Mattel with a preliminary finding this week that ruled in favour of the doll because she found it wasn’t "a market substitute for Barbie dolls".

"To the court’s knowledge, there is no Mattel line of ‘S&M Barbie,’" Judge Taylor Swain said.

Ms Pitt allegedly attached doll bodies of her own making to the head of Superstar Barbie and publicised the doll in a sexually explicit story on a website but closed it down after Mattel launched its action last year.

But a US spokesperson for Mattel said that the new doll represented a clear infringement of copyright.

"The message seems to be that because one manufacturer has come up with an idea that is so far removed from how the doll was originally intended it is fine to come up with this product," she said.

Toy giant Mattel has just launched a new Barbie doll that it hopes will be snapped up by teenagers. The Ken and Barbie dolls are being released to coincide with the 20th James Bond film, Die Another Day, staring Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, which opens on November 22.

The 007-style Barbie will have a cell phone strapped to her leg under her dress. She and dashing Ken, who has a trademark black tuxedo and 007 briefcase, will cost 50 in the shops.

 
 
 

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