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Judge Leval

MATTEL INC., creator of the Barbie Doll, appealed from a district court granting of summary judgment in favor of defendant Radio City Entertainment against a claim that defendant infringed Mattel’s copyright in Barbie in creating a “Rockettes 2000″ doll. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated and remanded, determining that the district court’s conclusion that the eyes, nose, and mouth of the registered Barbie faces were not protected by copyright was erroneous. The court noted that the Barbie visage was independently created by Mattel and that its creation involved whatever minimal creativity or originality is needed to satisfy the requirement of authorship. The court added that the evidence submitted by Mattel is sufficient to justify copyright protection for the central expressive features of Barbie’s face. The court found that the district court erred in concluding that defendant could freely copy the central facial features of the Barbie dolls without infringing Mattel’s copyright.

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