OMG Dolls-T.I. Dispute Gets Mistrial Over Cultural Appropriation


The maker of the popular L.O.L. Surprise! OMG Dolls was granted a mistrial in an intellectual property dispute with rapper T.I. and former teen pop group OMG Girlz, after a California federal judge determined that prohibited testimony on cultural appropriation was introduced.

MGA Entertainment Inc. attorney Jennifer Keller confirmed the mistrial to Bloomberg Law on Wednesday.

Prior to trial, which began Jan. 17, Judge James V. Selna of the Central District of California barred testimony about the dolls’ alleged racist cultural appropriation.

MGA Entertainment originally sued OMG Girlz, Clifford T.I. Harris, and Xscape singer Tameka “Tiny” Harris—whose daughter, Zonnique Pullins, was a part of the music group—in December 2020. It sought a declaratory judgment that its OMG Dolls didn’t infringe on the intellectual property rights of the former band after receiving a cease and desist letter.

The OMG Girlz—who performed from 2009 to 2015—responded with counterclaims alleging misappropriation of their name and likenesses, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition. They also sought damages and an order blocking further sale of the infringing dolls. They claimed that the dolls’ names and appearances are similar to the members of OMG Girlz, and a comparison “makes it clear that the OMG Dolls were intentionally designed to trade on the OMG Girlz’ likeness and brand.”

The OMG Girlz’ original counterclaims also alleged cultural appropriation, accusing MGA Entertainment and its CEO Isaac Larian of using his “doll business to misappropriate the likeness of Black female artists.” Those claims were removed in subsequent filings, and Selna granted MGA’s motion to exclude mention of that claim at trial.

The parties didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is MGA Entertainment Inc. v. Clifford T.I. Harris et al, C.D. Cal., No. 2:20-cv-11548, 1/25/23.

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