Of all the brand battles we could imagine, Barbie vs Burberry is one we didn't see coming. I mean, Barbie would never be seen dead in beige, right? And yet the British luxury fashion giant famous for applying the same old print to everything it makes has managed to upset the world's favourite anatomically impossible doll.
In contention are four consonants little consonants: B, R, B and Y. But as we saw in our pick of the best 3-letter logos, just a few letters can communicate a lot.
Barbie is big this year, with Warner Bros's new Barbie movie to be released on July 20 (see the amusing x-rated French Barbie posters). Barbara Millicent Roberts does not want anyone to rain on her parade, especially not a fashion brand. The toymaker Mattel, which has been making Barbie since 1959, is trying to stop Burberry from trademarking 'BRBY' as an all-caps, vowelless abbreviation of its own name in turn-of-the-century SMS-speak.
Mattel says the monicker would cause confusion with Barbie since it is "visually similar" and "phonetically identical". In Opposition No. 91285723 submitted to the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, it says a BRBY mark on clothing, bags and other products would dilute its brand and mislead consumers into thinking it was a "subset or expansion" of Barbie, which appears on clothing, jewellery and cosmetics as well as the dolls.
A trademark battle has begun between Barbie and Burberry.Barbie manufacturer, Mattel, has taken legal action to block a trademark filed by Burberry for "BRBY." Mattel is claiming that "BRBY" is too similar to its Barbie trademarks.A thread 🧵#Barbie #burberry pic.twitter.com/G9PuQrqae7June 28, 2023
To be fair, it kind of has a point. Spoken as a single word, 'BRBY' is more 'Barbie' than 'Burberry' since it drops a whole syllable from the fashion house's name. However, trademark lawyer Josh Gerben notes that context is important, and Burberry's clothing is so well-known that it may be decided that consumers would clearly recognise the abbreviated name as Burberry. He's suggested the dispute may be resolved with guidelines on how the trademark can be used.
Maybe Burberry should just go for BRBRRY instead. Or maybe it should just carry on writing its name out in full. After all, it bucked trends and went back to tradition with the reveal of the nice new Burberry logo earlier this year.