T.I. and his wife, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, returned to court last week regarding their trademark infringement lawsuit against MGA Entertainment in Los Angeles.
The “Live Your Life” rapper and his wife sued the company over claims of MGA using the likeness of their daughter’s group OMG Girlz for their line of dolls, L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Dolls.
The recording artists claimed the toy company used their daughter’s group as the model for its doll line, and the toymaker went to court last year to seek sole possession of trademark rights to the O.M.G. dolls brand after T.I. — whose legal name is Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. — sent MGA and Isaac Larian, the company’s head honcho, a cease-and-desist letter.
Harris countersued the toy company and accused MGA Entertainment of stealing the intellectual property of the musical group and of cultural appropriation. The company argued that it didn’t do anything “deliberate or willful” with OMG Dolls, claiming First Amendment protection.
This is the second trial for the lawsuit filed by the Harris family.
The first trial ended with a mistrial in January after a prohibited video deposition was played for the jury. It showed a woman stating that she stopped buying OMG dolls because she didn’t want to support a company that stole ideas from African Americans. The customer accused MGA of cultural appropriation.
Related: T.I. and Tiny Sue Toymaker for Trademark Infringement After Likenesses of OMG Girlz Group Was Used for Multiple Doll Lines
According to Billboard, jury selection for the new trial began on May 9 in Santa Ana, California, and Harris was in court for day two. The pop group was formed by Tiny in 2009 and included Tiny’s daughter, Zonnique Pullins, Reginae Carter, and sisters Lourdes and Bahja Rodriguez. The group launched in 2010 and was signed to Tiny’s music imprint, Pretty Hustle.
Breaunna Womack, who later joined the group to replace Carter, reportedly was with Tiny, Pullins, and Bahja at the courthouse on May 10.
One journalist shared pictures from the courthouse on Twitter.
“Hip-hop moguls T.I. and @TinyMajorMama are at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana today with @Zonnique, @bahjarodriguez and Breaunna Womack for the retrial in their lawsuit with @MGAEnt over the OMG Dolls and the OMG Girlz. This is a real case.”
The popular doll line was launched in 2016. T.I. and Tiny claim the dolls copied the group’s entire look from their costumes, hairstyles, and overall aesthetic. They are seeking $100 million from the toy company.
“This is a straight up & down infringement case on @omggirlz likeness & their creation that we all worked so hard to build,” Tiny wrote on Instagram back in Janurary. “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!!”
The “T.I. and Tiny Family Hustle” star told Forbes she was seeking “residuals from the dolls they have sold and be a part of the creative process for future dolls.” She said she could not let Larian get away with the group’s legacy.
“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,” she told the outlet. “He 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.”
Following the mistrial, a white juror said that he thought MGA’s attorneys were trying to “rile up people’s racist feelings against Black people” by using the group’s lyrics in court proceedings.
ABS reached out to the Harris’ lawyers for a statement but has yet to receive a response.