Toymaker Wants T.I. To Repay $6M In Legal Bills Following ‘Frivolous’ Lawsuit Over OMG Girlz

The toy company accused of stealing the OMG Girlz’s likeness by T.I. in a lawsuit is now flipping the script on the Atlanta rapper, as MGA Entertainment claims that the self-proclaimed “King Of The South” should pay $6 million after court proceedings ended in its favor.

via: Billboard

T.I. and his wife, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, claimed MGA owed them nearly $100 million for stealing the design of its “OMG” dolls from the OMG Girlz — a defunct teen pop trio created by Tiny that included her daughter, Zonnique Pullins.

But following a trial last month, a jury quickly rejected those claims. And now, MGA says T.I. and his company must repay the more than $6 million the company spent litigating the messy lawsuit, which resulted in a sudden mistrial in January after jurors heard inadmissible racially-charged testimony.

“The OMG Girlz’ litigation tactics, over-reaching claims, and misconduct — including violating one of this Court’s … rulings as to require a mistrial — justify awarding MGA the over $6.1 million in fees spent litigating this matter,” the company’s lawyers wrote in a new court filing on Monday (June 26).

The battle over the OMG dolls began in 2021, when T.I. (real name Clifford Harris) and Tiny claimed that MGA had committed both “cultural appropriation and outright theft of the intellectual property” by stealing the look of the OMG Girlz. Their complaint included side-by-side images aiming to show how each OMG doll was directly based on a particular member of the OMG Girlz, including bright-colored hair and “edgy” clothing.

The case initially went to trial in January, but on the fifth day of the proceedings jurors heard videotaped deposition testimony in which a former MGA customer claimed the company “steals from African Americans and their ideas and profit off of it.” After MGA’s lawyers argued the comment had ruined their chances of a fair trial, the federal judge overseeing the case quickly granted a mistrial.

Four months later, the two sides did it all again. But after a 10-day trial in Los Angeles that saw both T.I. and Tiny take the witness stand, jurors needed just a few hours to side entirely with MGA.

Under U.S. law, each side typically pays its own legal bills, regardless of who wins a case. But in trademark lawsuits, federal judges are empowered to force losing parties like T.I. to repay the winner if a case is “exceptional.”

In Monday’s filing, MGA said the case had been exactly that kind of “exceptional” situation. They argued that T.I.’s lawyers used an “extremely aggressive” style that made the case “exceptionally contentious,” and claimed that the other side had committed “discovery misconduct.” They also cited the missteps that led to the mistrial, which required an entire second trial to be staged.

“Both in the manner the OMG Girlz litigated this case, and the weakness of the substantive claims and theories the OMG Girlz presented (as confirmed by the jury), the Court should conclude that this case stands out from others,” MGA wrote.

An attorney for T.I. did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday.

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