Nicki Minaj 'Barbie-Que' chip maker hit with Mattel trademark lawsuit

Barbie dolls, a brand owned by Mattel, are seen at the FAO Schwarz toy store in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
  • Rap Snacks maker allegedly violated 'Barbie' trademark
  • Mattel said potato chips will cause customer confusion

(Reuters) - Mattel Inc sued the maker of Rap Snacks in Los Angeles federal court Thursday, alleging its Nicki Minaj-branded "Barbie-Que Honey Truffle" potato chips violate Mattel's trademark rights in the famous Barbie doll.

Mattel said it never gave Rap Snacks Inc permission to use its trademarks. The toy maker asked the court for an order blocking Rap Snacks from using the "Barbie" name, as well as money damages including profits from "Barbie-Que" sales.

Mattel declined to comment on the lawsuit. Rap Snacks did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Minaj is not a defendant in the case. Her label Universal Music did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. The rapper has long used "Barbie" as part of her persona, and she collaborated with El Segundo, California-based Mattel on a doll for charity in 2011.

Miami-based Rap Snacks has teamed with several famous rappers to make signature lines of snacks, like Snoop Dogg's O.G. Bar-B-Que Cheddar potato chips. Mattel told the court that Rap Snacks' Minaj-branded "Barbie-Que" chips, launched in June, create customer confusion and a false association with the "Barbie" brand.

"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 lawsuit said. "Indeed, Rap Snacks never requested or received any such permission."

Mattel also said it sells its own snack foods under the "Barbie" name, which increases the risk of confusion.

The company said Rap Snacks refused to stop using the name or "correct the misimpressions it foisted on the public," and that it sued "as a last resort."

The case is Mattel Inc v. Rap Snacks Inc, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:22-cv-05702.

For Mattel: Lee Brenner and Meaghan Kent of Venable LLP

For Rap Snacks: not available

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com