Last month, AGDN reported on a case where astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz accused American Girl of stealing their likeness for the Luciana Vega doll. The Chicago Tribune just interviewed Lucianne about the case, so now we have a bit more information about their side to the story.
Walkowicz found about about Luciana when she debuted in 2018. They don't have children, but knew of AG during their childhood and have nieces that like AG, so they were aware of the AG brand. But when a photo of Luciana was posted on Walkowicz's Facebook page by a friend, people started suspecting that they had something to do with the doll's creation- even their own family. They ended up posting a photo of Luciana on Facebook with the caption, "I'll guess I have to change my name."
During the interview, Walkowicz said that they "felt violated by it. It seemed so clearly to be based on me. Not only my appearance and my clothes, but also my work, because there are things about the doll... that are related to my career, my life’s work. I also felt very helpless because I didn’t really know what I could do about it. This large, super-powerful company had essentially taken my identity and my work and turned it into a product for them to sell.”
Walkowicz sued American Girl because they believe "the doll shares far too many resemblances to me to have been fabricated out of whole cloth." Like the doll that sparked this lawsuit, Walkowicz usually wears holographic boots and has been dying streaks of her hair purple since before Luciana was even born. "One of my sort of trademark things about my appearance is that I usually have some kind of fun hair color. I started putting bright colors splashed into my natural color, which is dark, dark brown, like the doll’s, back in about 2004 or 5. And it has been most consistently purple or some variation thereof since 2008 or so...The doll comes with a pink dress that I own a blue version of, that is a dress with a space print on it. The doll also has a pair of hologram shoes that resemble multiple pairs of shoes that I have.”
Walkowicz also believes that the doll resembles their work as well. "The last name of the doll, Vega, is also the brightest star next to the part of space that the NASA Kepler mission did all of its observing in- the part of space that I have done all my work in." Walkowicz has also researched and spoken about the ethics of Mars exploration, and Luciana dreams of going to Mars someday. This may seem like coincidences to others, but Walkowicz defends themself by saying "there aren’t that many astronomers in the world to begin with, and I am not aware of any other astronomer that works on an intersection of the Kepler mission and human mars exploration."
Lucianne reached out to American Girl immediately, but filed the lawsuit because the company wasn't responsive. The suit claims these things, as well as outlining "a number of public talks Walkowicz has given on these topics, including one in Madison in 2014, where people associated with the creation of the doll for American Girl, headquartered nearby in Middleton, might have had the opportunity to be in the audience."
The Chicago Tribune also had an opportunity to Walkowicz's lawyer, Charles Lee Mudd Jr., who said this about the lawsuit: "I’m comfortable in my perspective that it’s really impossible for American Girl to make the argument with a straight face that they created this doll with all these features out of the blue. The doll that they have chosen to make is Lucianne. One coincidence, maybe you raise an eyebrow. Two? When you start getting to as many as we have, the conclusion is obvious.”
Now, the suit is filed, and it's unclear how it will go. However, AGDN will keep you updated!