Elly May Clampett v. Barbie

If you’re my age, it is very likely that one of your first crushes was on Elly May Clampett. I mean, who could resist? She was cute, looked great in jeans and could beat up her cousin Jethro Bodine. In short, she was perfect. Now, actress Donna Douglas is suing to keep the Mattel Toy Company from cashing in on those memories. It seems that Mattel ran a limited edition Elly May Barbie Doll , and used pictures of Ms. Douglas as Elly May in advertising and on the packaging. According to the complaint, Ms. Douglas never consented to Mattel’s the use of her photo, name or likeness. The suit seeks an injunction and damages under the federal Lanham Act and Louisiana law (Ms. Douglas lives there). It will be very interesting to see how Mattel responds. But on its face, it seems like the toy company made a mistake here. The law on celebrity endorsements is pretty clear. And juries are sympathetic to the idea that if a person’s picture helps sell a product, they ought to have a say in the matter. Mr. Drysdale is probably already counting the damage award.