It's Nina's Shoes All Over Again

I truly don't understand what motivates corporate attorneys to want to try to stomp on the heads of innocent porn stars - although in this case, I can hazard a guess.

Seems Mattel Inc., manufacturer of the legendary Barbie doll, has decided to throw its corporate weight around and try to stomp on an ex-porn star, now a dancer and independent filmmaker, who called herself "China Barbie" - and who had the temerity to register a URL with that name as well, where subscribers can view (I'm guessing, because the site appears to have been taken down) sexually explicit photos and video clips.

Mattel claims China is using the name "Barbie" in a "bad faith attempt to profit from Mattel's Barbie trademarks," and because it's a porn site, somehow that damages "Mattel's good name."

But I've got to ask: What sort of idiot is going to go to, see the photo of this cute Asian babe on the front page, and think of Mattel's sterile doll with the fake hair, nippleless boobs and complete lack of genitalia? If anything, Mattel should be congratulating China Barbie for humanizing the word "Barbie" which in turn would increase Mattel's profitability through porn fans mistakenly buying more of its dolls!

Of course, toys themselves don't have such a "good name" nowadays, what with the recent scandal involving lead paint having been used on playthings imported from China, many of which were Mattel's - and that's how China Barbie suspects Mattel ran across her site in the first place.

"You know what everyone says, including those in the business? They said that because of the lead poisoning situation in China, a lot of people probably Googled it, and my name probably came up in the Google search, because there's a fire with this whole toy recall, and that's how come I guess they found out about the website," said China, a New York City resident, who doesn't understand why Mattel seems to think she lives in Hollywood, Florida.

The whole situation brings to mind another brand name battle between a porn star and a mainstream company: Nina Hartley vs. Nina's Shoes, where the New York shoe manufacturer tried to steal, Hartley's long-time website, so they could use it to hawk their footwear. They too accused one of America's best-known porn stars of damaging their brand name and costing them profits, but Hartley had registered her site first, a good five years earlier, and the hearing board which decides such domain name disputes told Nina's Shoes that it didn't have a leg to stand on.

And considering that China Barbie's site has no pictures of dolls, and doesn't use fonts that look anything like the fonts Mattel uses for its product, Mattel likewise should lose its suit.

Sadly, what militates against that outcome is that Mattel is a big company with lots of money at its disposal, and it could, if it wants to, "paper" China Barbie to death with briefs and motions. The woman tells me she doesn't have a lot of money to fight this extortion attempt.

But I had to ask myself, why would Mattel get so concerned now over a tiny website that certainly doesn't get much traffic - or didn't, I'm sure, before Mattel plastered China Barbie's name over the front pages of several newspapers, including the New York Post? Sure, profits are tanking, thanks to the forced recall of millions of toys from store shelves, but does Mattel think it can make up those bucks by suing an indigent ex-porn star?

But my paranoid mind has worked out a possible reason for the lawsuit: Mattel is planning to augment its line of ethnic Barbie dolls - Black Barbie and Hispanic Barbie both came out in 1980, though 1997's cross-promotional black "Oreo Fun Barbie" didn't go over so well, for obvious reasons - with an Asian Barbie doll that could easily be named "China Barbie."

Yep, just another example of American corporate greed.

I gave China the names of a couple of First Amendment attorneys who might help her, and I hope they do ... though perhaps their only payment will be the publicity arising from helping a put-upon ex-porn star fight a large corporation's greed. China's promised to keep in touch ... and to send over a copy of her upcoming release, the first of a XXX DVD series she's making titled Buttcakes.

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