Angel Reese denied trademark as LSU abandons efforts to monetize iconic nickname

Angel Reese will no longer be able to brand merchandise under her “Bayou Barbie” nickname – though she’ll be able to sell plenty of other products using her name, image and likeness

LSU basketball star Angel Reese will not be able to sell “Bayou Barbie” merchandise after the program decided not to appeal a denied trademark attempt.

Reese has become one of the most marketable athletes across college sports and has an estimated NIL value of $1.7 million, according to Sportico. The 21-year-old grew in popularity last season after leading the Tigers to national championship success and has continued to perform at a high level this campaign.

The LSU forward has brand deals with PlayStation, Raising Canes, McDonald’s, Coach, Wingstop, Outback Steakhouse. and Amazon. She also boasts 2.7 million followers on Instagram. Both Reese and LSU were looking to push merchandise with her nickname “Bayou Barbie” but have failed in their efforts.

The initial trademark request was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) back in November, but LSU was given a 90-day window to submit arguments supporting her case. The case is now closed after Reese’s team decided not to appeal, bringing an end to any hopes of releasing merch.

USPTO published a filing when denying the trademark at the end of last year, explaining that toy company Mattel owns the rights to “Barbie.” Reese’s nickname was created due to her style of play, the fact she plays for LSU, and also because she has a love for long pink nails and eyelash extensions.

Due to athletes being able to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL), it made sense for Reese to push for another source of passive income through merch sales. “She loves the color pink,” Reese’s agent Jeanine Ogbonnaya told On3. “She’s always getting her hair and nails done for games. So that definitely plays a big part in it.”

Reese has become one of the biggest college athletes across men and women's sports
Reese has become one of the biggest college athletes across men and women’s sports
NIL attorney Darren Heitner filed the trademark request on Reese’s behalf but has since explained why all efforts were abandoned following the rejection.

“We discussed internally and determined that it was in Angel’s best interest to not unnecessarily instigate Mattel,” said Heitner. “While initially it seemed worthy to obtain the registration, Angel has pivoted away from selling Bayou Barbie merchandise. As such, the appropriate business decision was made to simply let the application abandon.”

It won’t have a serious impact on Reese though, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft. Her LSU head coach, Kim Mulkey, has been impressed by her focus on the court despite all of her commercial success off of it.

“She’s handled it beautifully,” Mulkey told reporters recently. “Her career is winding down in college and so you start counting probably in her mind how many more games I have in my college career. And every game is maybe magnified more.”

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