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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Artist wins Barbie doll fight
Barbie dolls
Barbie was inspired by a German model in 1957
An American artist has won his legal fight with giant toy manufacturer Mattel which had tried to stop him using images of Barbie dolls in his work.

Tom Forsythe's photographs show the famous doll in a series of absurd situations, including sexually suggestive poses.


I'm not the first person to parody Barbie and I'm sure I won't be the last

Tom Forsythe
But a US district judge ruled that because the images were intended as parody they did not infringe copyright or marketing of the doll, as claimed by Mattel. The company intends to appeal the decision.

"We said the photos were parodies of the Barbie dolls and made fun of the image they project," said Annette Hurst, lead defence lawyer for Forsythe.

Household tasks

The images were used in a series of photographs titled Food Chain Barbie. Forsythe said they criticised "Barbie's embodiment of America's culture of consumption and conformism".

Barbie
Barbie is one of the world's most popular toys
The Barbie dolls are shown doing household tasks, sitting in a food mixer and even wrapped in tortillas in a series of more than 40 images.

"Mattel is very disappointed that Judge Lew failed to take into consideration that consumers do not view Mr Forsythe's photographs as art or as parody and that a substantial number are confused into thinking that Mattel sponsors his goods," the company said in a statement.

Last year the company unsuccessfully tried to prevent Forsythe from using the doll and selling the photos as postcards.

'Powerful victory'

"The ruling doesn't mean it is open season (to exploit products by) Mattel, it means there is a certain amount of breathing room for artists who want to use a commercial symbol that has tremendous cultural meaning, for purposes of artistic expression," Forsythe's solicitor Simon Frankel said.

Tom Forsythe
Tom Forysthe's photos are for sale
Forsythe said: "I'm not the first person to parody Barbie and I'm sure I won't be the last.

"The judge's decision is a powerful victory for all feminists who criticize Barbie's stereotype of women and the unquestioning acceptance that allows Mattel to sell these hyper sexualized hunks of plastic into millions of American homes."

Peter Eliasberg of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which supported Forsythe, called the judge's decision "a great victory for artists."

See also:

20 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Barbie eyes new horizons
02 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Posh and Elton's Barbie party
28 Apr 00 | Education
Barbie unveils education policy
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