T.I.’s Lawsuit Against Toymaker Over ‘OMG’ Dolls Set For New Jury Trial
The rapper and his wife claim toymaker MGA stole the name and design of its "OMG" dolls from the teen pop trio OMG Girlz.
Months after a high-profile mistrial, T.I. is headed back to federal court Wednesday for a second trial in his lawsuit claiming that toymaker MGA stole the design of its “OMG” dolls from the OMG Girlz — a defunct teen pop trio created by his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris.
The intellectual property case initially went to trial in January, but Judge James V. Selna granted a sudden mistrial after jurors heard inadmissible racially-charged testimony, including a claim that MGA “steals from African Americans.”
The battle began in 2021, with T.I. (real name Clifford Harris) and Tiny claiming that MGA had committed both “cultural appropriation and outright theft of the intellectual property” by stealing the look of a group of “young multicultural women.”
Their complaint against MGA included side-by-side images, aiming to show how each OMG doll was directly based on a particular member of the OMG Girlz, a group that included Tiny’s daughter Zonnique Pullins.
“This cultural appropriation is legally actionable where, as here, it has resulted in MGA’s unlawful copying and dilution of the OMG Girlz brand, and misappropriation of their name and likeness,” lawyers for T.I. and Tiny wrote.
MGA, for its part, says it has done nothing wrong — that the dolls were more often branded as L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G., and that consumers would not confuse the toys for the “short-lived” band.
The case went before a federal jury in January, seeing five days of testimony. But on the fifth day of the trial, jurors heard videotaped deposition testimony from a woman named Moneice Campbell, a former MGA customer who said she would no longer purchase the company’s products because MGA “steals from African Americans and their ideas and profit off of it.”
Earlier in the case, Judge Selna had already expressly prohibited such testimony from the trial. After MGA’s lawyers demanded an immediate mistrial, the judge agreed to grant one.
“There is no way to unring the bell of the jury’s hearing Ms. Campbell’s emotionally charged accusations that MGA has been ‘stealing’ from the African-American community,” the MGA attorneys wrote. “Her improper testimony cannot be challenged, rebutted or cured without drawing further attention to it.”
The new trial began with jury selection on Tuesday and will see opening statements on Wednesday.