Federal protectors of the Canada-Minnesota border want a court to issue an arrest warrant for nearly 22,000 counterfeit Barbie dolls that were intended for distribution to Dollar Tree stores in the United States, according to a recent court filing.
If granted, the warrant would give U.S. Customs and Border Protection permission to condemn and destroy the knockoff dolls, which were shipped by a Hong Kong exporter and seized in October 2017 from a freight train at the port of entry near International Falls, Minn.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Minneapolis alleges in its civil filing that the "defendant" CEO Barbie dolls and their packaging violated federal copyright, trademark and other protections.
Prosecutors showed photos of some of the dolls to a lawyer for legitimate Barbie maker Mattel, which pointed out numerous features of the fakes that were too similar to the toymaker's facial features for the fashion doll that has been a favorite of children worldwide for 60 years.
Specifically, "the shape of the mouth, including the upturned upper lip and shape of the dimples at the corner of the mouth," were some of the features attorney Michael Moore focused on, according to last week's filing, which branded the dolls as "piratical copies."
Moore also listed as copyright infringements "the shape of the philtrum [vertical creases above the upper lip], the shape of the nose, including nostril proportions, and the shape of the jaw."
Messages were left Tuesday with a representative of Virginia-based Dollar Tree, whose corporate name is Greenbrier International Inc., seeking a response to the federal action.
Prosecutors also said they made a similar seizure at the same port of entry in 2016, implicating Greenbrier in the import of more than 13,000 counterfeit Fashion Doll Mermaids. They also were found to have a "head sculpt" that infringed on copyright and trademark protections afforded real Barbie dolls.
Dollar Tree, a Fortune 200 company, operates more than 15,000 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces as of February. They operate under the Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree Canada brands.