Barbie is Everywhere – Here’s How It Happened


Everything is pink: The record-setting box office opening of the Barbie movie came with an inescapable wave of Barbie products – from costumes, cosmetics, pens, soft drinks, to a Barbie dreamhouse for rent. As part of an extensive marketing strategy that leverages Barbie's unique brand, Mattel has engaged in over 100 partnerships to celebrate the iconic doll, and make the most of the film's release for them and their partners.

The foundation of this successful strategy lies in the fact that Barbie is a registered trademark, benefiting from protection for its distinctive brand identity, including its name, logo, and slogan.

Trademark protection was essential for Mattel to secure exclusive rights over Barbie, setting it apart from competitors, and establishing a recognizable and appealing brand that attracts customers.

The Barbie trademark

First registered in 1959, Barbie’s original logo featured a simple, handwritten bright pink sans serif font. Since then, the logo changed five times before Mattel reverted to the original in 2009, which is still in use today.

When Mattel applied to register the Barbie trademark, they had to precisely identify the goods for which they intended to use “Barbie”. When they were first granted trademark protection for “Barbie”, it was specifically for “dolls”, giving them the right to exclusively use and prevent others from using “Barbie” on dolls.

Mattel has since applied for the Barbie trademark in other categories of goods such as clothing, jewelry, vehicles, drawing materials, and others. To avoid rejection, brand owners need to be careful to only select relevant product types for which they seek trademark protection – otherwise trademark offices are unlikely to accept their application.

In addition to trademark rights, Barbie products have also received patent and industrial design For example, the first Barbie patent from 1961 related to a “doll construction”. Back then, on a tiptoe, Barbie was unable to stand upright without support. Only later were Barbie’s feet flattened.


From Barbie to the world: licensing and merchandising deals

For the Barbie movie and through other licensing deals, Mattel (“the licensor”) grants others (“licensees”) the right to produce and sell products and services leveraging the Barbie brand.

It’s thanks to these deals that we are seeing a plethora of products featuring Barbie on the market: Mattel’s licensing deals with over 100 brands include an O.P.I. Barbie nail polish, Gap’s Barbie apparel, NYX cosmetics, a Burger King pink sauce, pink Xbox controllers, Crocs, UNO cards, and much more.

The defining feature across all these products is the presence of the Barbie logo, which serves as a connection to the original Barbie brand.