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Trial Of Cabbage Patch Kids vs. Garbage Pail Kids Opens Today

January 27, 1987

ATLANTA (AP) _ The makers of Cabbage Patch Kids are set to try to show that Dead Fred, Acne Amy and and their Garbage Pail Kids pals are ripoffs of the cherubic, soft-sculpture dolls that took the toy world by storm in 1983.

The non-jury trial of a copyright and trademark lawsuit opens today in U.S. District Court.

The Cabbage Patch Kids were first made by Xavier Roberts in Cleveland, Ga., and more than 35 million have been sold. The intentionally gross Garbage Pail Kids appeared initially in 1985 on chewing gum cards and have spread to clothes, lunch boxes, key chains, coffee cups and stickers.

The faces of the Garbage Pail Kids are similar to the Cabbage Patch Kids - too similar, contend the doll-makers.

Since Topps Chewing Gum Co. of Brooklyn, N.Y., introduced the Garbage Pail Kids, some schools have banned them, parents’ groups denounced them and shopowners can’t keep up with the demand for them.

Original Appalachian Artworks Inc., which originated the Cabbage Patch Kids, is suing Topps, claiming the similarity infringes on its copyright and trademark rights.

The suit seeks to stop Topps from making the Garbage Pail Kids, to have Topps destroy all in its possession and make a good-faith effort to recall those on the market. It also seeks three times the profit Topps has made from the venture.

″Topps has sold more than $50 million in Garbage Pail Kids products,″ said William Needle, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Cabbage Patch Kids products are made and sold under permit by more than 120 companies. At least 21 companies make and market Garbage Pail Kids products. One makes and sells both.

The plaintiffs say similarities make it impossible to see the Garbage Pail Kids without thinking of their product.

The suit claims Topps was offered an opportunity to make Cabbage Patch Kids products early in 1983 but declined. When the dolls’ popularity soared, the suit claims, Topps tried to get the license but was rejected. It suggests the Garbage Pail Kids may be revenge.

The defense claims the Garbage Pail Kids ″are in the nature of satire and parody″ and thus are a fair use of anything to which the plaintiffs may have property rights. It denies any copyright or trademark infringement.

In August, U.S. District Judge Ernest Tidwell granted an injunction preventing Topps from continuing to make and market the Garbage Pail Kids until the case could be tried. But the plaintiffs would have had to post a huge but undetermined bond to cover Topps’ losses in case Topps won, and decided against it.

Tidwell has indicated the Cabbage Patch Kids have the upper hand.

″It is a fine line between parody and piracy,″ his August order said. ″The primary purpose behind the defendant’s parody is not an effort to make a social comment but is an effort to make money.″

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