T.I. and Tiny Harris are moving forward with their lawsuit against MGA Entertainment, the manufacturer behind the über-successful L.O.L. Surprise! and O.M.G. Dolls. The couple has accused MGA of copying the likeness of the former girl group OMG Girlz, which was founded by Tiny over a decade ago.
The group, which was originally a quartet ranging in age from 11 to 13, was created and launched in 2009. Alongside Tiny’s daughter Zonnique Pullins was Lil Wayne’s daughter Reginae Carter, and sisters Bahja and Lourdes Rodriguez. The group debuted their first single, “Ain’t Nobody,” in 2010 and were signed to Pretty Hustle, Tiny’s music imprint. Shortly after, Reginae, who was the youngest among the girls, left the group. The popular doll line launched in 2016. The Xscape group member says the dolls copied the girls’ costumes, hairstyles, and overall aesthetic, making this case a fight over the rights to intellectual property.
In December 2020, MGA and Isaac Larian, the company’s head honcho, were sent a cease-and-desist letter on behalf of the Harrises, but instead of working towards a mutual resolution, Tiny was sued. As a result, the songstress countersued and cited trademark infringement. Legal reporter Meghann Cuniff — who gained notoriety for her coverage of Tory Lanez assault trial — tweeted on Jan. 5 that federal proceedings are slated to take place in a Santa Ana, California, courthouse. A total of 31 dolls are expected to be called into question. A trial date has not been announced.
Tiny, real name Tameka Cottle, issued a comment online regarding the ongoing legal matter. She wrote, “This is a straight up & down infringement case on @omggirlz likeness & their creation that we all worked so hard to build. Only to be snatched by a big company with no remorse. I am only fighting for what’s right on behalf of the Girlz & us!!”
In April, Zonnique posted photos showcasing the similarities between the former girl group and the dolls. She asked, “Do these dolls look familiar? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.” The post was met with an overwhelming amount of support from people who agreed the group’s entire look had been stolen.
The “T.I. and Tiny Family Hustle” star told Forbes she initially hoped to “work something out,” but now hopes “they [the court] will conclude that there was an infringement on our copyright and acknowledge that. I would also like to get residuals from the dolls they have sold and be a part of the creative process for future dolls.”
Tiny added, “Ultimately, we all don’t want to see this man taking advantage of something we created, built, and worked hard for. But, while doing my research, I noticed that he has not only done this to us but to other Black influencers. He [Larian] prides himself on people not being able to fight him in court because he is a billionaire. I feel like he has been able to get away with taking from our culture because nobody can fight it.”
Larian was previously called out by artist Amina Mucciolo two years ago for stealing her likeness to create a doll. Like the OMG Girlz, Mucciolo is recognized for her colorful and over-the-top, fun, eccentric aesthetic. She told BuzzFeed that she was alerted to the doll by her followers. “The first thing I noticed was the exact replica of a hairstyle I did to celebrate my 35th birthday. It was aqua with rainbow highlights, and it was shocking because the hairstyle was the result of my imagination and leftover hair I had from the previous style I wore… It was disturbing to see something that came straight from my mind, to be duplicated on a toy that I had no part in creating,” said the color enthusiast. Larian hit back by threatening to sue and calling Mucciolo a “disgrace to Black people.”