Whether you followed it in the news as it unfolded or learned about it in a law school class, you probably remember the famous “Barbie Girl” case.  In that case, Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, Mattel sued the Danish pop band, Aqua, for trademark infringement/dilution and copyright infringement over its popular song “Barbie Girl.”  Mattel lost the case, with Judge Alex Kozinski finishing his powerful opinion in favor of Aqua’s right to parody Barbie, with the following admonishment: “The parties are advised to chill.”

It’s been 12 years since Aqua released the controversial song in 1997, and it looks like Mattel has had time to “chill.”

Mattel recently launched a new promotional campaign in which a modified version of Aqua’s song figures prominently.  The campaign kicked off with a music video posted to YouTube and was followed by a series of media appearances for the new song. (via The Trademark Blog.)

So what’s the lesson learned?  For Mattel and large firms like it, the lesson seems pretty clear.  Technology has fundamentally changed the way consumers exchange information.  Many firms have already realized that they can reach out to their base by adopting social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  The Barbie story teaches us that firms can go a step further and take the role of collaborator rather than bully.

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