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  • Writer's pictureJamal Saafir

T.I. & Tiny Are Facing Some Not So Tiny Attorney Fees

T.I. and Tiny Harris

The verdict is in and it doesn’t look promising for The Grand Hustle side of the lawsuit. What initially began as a filing against Clifford “T.I.” Harris, his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris, and The OMG Girlz LLC, the music entity started by Tiny, has ended in hefty legal fees being sought by the original plaintiffs.

This matter began in late 2020 with an initial suit filed by well known toymaker MGA Entertainment, of Bratz Doll fame. The origins of this matter seems to be less documented and more word of mouth as to what brought on the initial action. According to gossip-media reports, in 2010 there was an alleged discussion between T.I., Tiny, and MGA after an Atlanta toy drive where MGA had announced they were in talks about creating a line of dolls inspired by The OMG Girlz.

Reportedly, T.I. and Tiny were interested in the venture and were willing to work with the toymaker. The discussions never materialized and the idea became an afterthought. Or so it seemed. After the passing of nine years, MGA released a line of dolls called The L.O.L. Surprise! OMG Dolls. Many of the dolls resembled The OMG Girlz, so T.I. and Tiny brought this to the attention of the toymaker, seeking proper licensing of the group’s name and likeness. It appeared that the dolls had been inspired by the OMG Girlz name, style of dress, hair, and overall appearance. When T.I. and Tiny attempted to establish a proper licensing relationship with MGA by issuing a cease and desist, the toymaker responded by filing suit and saying their claims had no basis. MGA sought relief in the form of a declaratory judgment that its OMG Dolls didn’t infringe on the intellectual property rights of The OMG Girlz.

In turn, T.I. and Tiny filed a counterclaim alleging that the toymaker did indeed copy the name and likeness of the OMG Girlz and found themselves in a legal battle that would last a period of years. The proceedings ended in a mistrial after the Harris’ legal team played testimony from a consumer’s deposition, which was deemed inadmissible due to a prior ruling made by a federal judge.

As reported by Bloomberg Law, Prior to trial, which began Jan. 17, Judge James V. Selna of the Central District of California barred testimony about the dolls’ alleged racist cultural appropriation.

“Because of the incurable prejudicial cultural appropriation deposition testimony played to the jury,” wrote MGA in its written motion, “this court must declare a mistrial.”

MGA said that the testimony was “nothing less than a rant” by the witness about how she stopped purchasing the dolls because she didn’t want to support “a company that steals from African Americans and their ideas and profit off it.”

“There is no unringing this bell, no way for MGA to counter the improper testimony, and no instruction the Court can give to cure this problem,” the motion argued.

The battle has now concluded and judgment entered on June 13th, 2023 in favor of the plaintiffs MGA Entertainment and Isaac Larian.

An excerpt from the court document:

Accordingly, the Court ORDERS that judgment be entered in favor of MGA Entertainment and Isaac Larian, and against Grand Hustle, LLC, Pretty Hustle, LLC, and OMG Girlz LLC on all of the OMG Girlz’ claims, and that the OMG Girlz take nothing on their operative Third-Amended Counterclaims.

The Court also ORDERS that judgment be entered in favor of MGA Entertainment and against defendants Clifford “T.I.” Harris, Tameka “Tiny” Harris,OMG Girlz LLC, Grand Hustle, LLC, and Pretty Hustle, LLC on MGA Entertainment’s operative First Amended Complaint, with the Court issuing the following judicial declarations:

  1. MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. fashion dolls, namely the 71 fashion dolls and packaging litigated in this case do not infringe any of the OMG Girlz’ trade dress and/or trademark rights or rights of publicity;

  2. MGA Entertainment may continue to market, distribute, and sell its L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. fashion dolls, namely the 71 fashion dolls and packaging litigated in this case. The Court FURTHER ORDERS that MGA is the prevailing party.

Any motion for attorneys’ fees and/or costs will be determined separately. JUDGMENT IS SO ENTERED. Dated: June 13, 2023

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The plaintiffs, MGA Entertainment and Isaac Larian are now seeking the legal fees paid out to pursue this case in the sum of $6.1 million.

As reported by Billboard,

“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 June 26th, 2023.

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