The battle of the cheerleading fashion dolls — Barbie against Claudene — is going into a third round with Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel Inc., suing San Diego’s venerable Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps for slander and libel.

A suit filed Feb. 28 in Los Angeles Superior Court says that in June Luce, Forward published a defamatory article by partner James Hicks, who represented the Collegiate Doll Co. in disputes with Mattel. The article, which appeared among other places on Luce, Forward’s firm Web site, accused Mattel of stealing copyrighted material from a rival and then illegally trying to drive the rival out of business, Mattel’s suit states. “These libelous statements were read by unknown recipients of the Luce, Forward newsletter and could also be read by California residents and anyone with access to the World Wide Web,” it says.

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