LSU women's basketball: Why Angel Reese was denied use of "Bayou Barbie" nickname

LSU women’s basketball star Angel Reese continues to leverage her on-court success to off-the-court celebrity. However, a major toy manufacturer stiff-armed her recent trademark attempt.
Feb 11, 2024; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Lady Tigers forward Angel Reese (10) celebrates a
Feb 11, 2024; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Lady Tigers forward Angel Reese (10) celebrates a / Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

Angel Reese emerged as a star after leading the LSU women’s basketball team to its first national championship. The junior forward plays a rugged, gritty style of basketball synonymous with a Louisiana bayou. Off the court, Reese is as glamorous and fashionable as Barbie. Thus, it made sense when she started NIL marketing the “Bayou Barbie” nickname.

However, Reese’s nickname was blocked because of the Mattel toy company’s proprieties.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied Reese’s application to trademark the “Bayou Barbie” nickname. Indeed, the USPTO determined that the LSU’s women’s basketball star’s nickname infringes on Mattel’s Barbie trademark.

According to On3, Reese opted against filing a rebuttal and will no longer use the nickname. Speaking on her behalf, NIL attorney Darren Heitner said it is in “Angel’s best interest to unnecessarily instigate Mattel.”

I agree that a student-athlete must avoid engaging in a legal battle with a multinational toy and entertainment company. The last thing Reese needs is a lawsuit filed by Mattel for her prior use of the “Bayou Barbie” nickname, including NIL merchandise sales. Conversely, I think Mattel signing Reese to an NIL deal that permits the use of the Barbie moniker could be lucrative.

Then again, actor Margot Robbie is now the real-life face behind the Barbie franchise following 2023’s Barbie film.

Removing the “Bayou Barbie” nickname will not derail Angel Reese’s ascent to national stardom. After all, she is featured on the current Women’s Health magazine cover. But I wonder if Reese has any ideas for a different nickname.

Reese is second among women’s college athletics earners with a $1.7 million NIL annual valuation. She currently has 17 different NIL deals, with more likely on the way.

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The NIL earnings of women’s college basketball stars like Reese and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark have triggered speculation that returning to college for the 2024-25 season is in play. Clark’s current NIL valuation is $910k and rising. For context, a contract within the WNBA rookie pay scale is $62,285 to $74,305 for a player’s first year.