Mark Lennihan/AP

Ruling Gives New Life to MGA and Bratz

January 09, 2009 11:30 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
A federal judge has ruled that MGA Entertainment can continue to make and sell Bratz dolls in 2009, altering an earlier decision that might have resulted in a Bratz ban. 

Bratz Are Back

In a ruling yesterday, U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson said the mega toy retailer could continue making and selling Bratz dolls in 2009, according to Bloomberg. In an e-mailed statement, MGA CEO Issac Larian said his company would appeal the court's decision in hopes of extending the stay even further, beyond this year.

However, Judge Larson's decision "leaves open the possibility that Mattel or a court-appointed receiver may ultimately market the dolls this year," according to the International Herald Tribune. That issue will be argued at a hearing on Feb. 11.

In early December 2008, the conclusion of a four-year courtroom battle stemming from the lawsuit filed by Barbie manufacturer Mattel against Bratz manufacturer MGA Entertainment resulted in a decisive victory for Mattel, prompting questions over the future of MGA.

MGA Entertainment was ordered to stop making Bratz dolls immediately, but Bratz would remain on store shelves until the end of the holiday season, according to the Associated Press.

Background: MGA v. Mattel

In December 2006, Barbie manufacturer Mattel filed a lawsuit accusing MGA Entertainment “of stealing its ‘intellectual infrastructure’ including company secrets, business plans and 25 members of its staff” in creating a line of dolls called Bratz. In the suit, Mattel suggested it owned the rights to Bratz dolls, “because they were conceived by one of its own designers who then defected to MGA in 2000,” reported U.K. newspaper the Daily Telegraph.

In August 2008, MGA Entertainment issued a report on “Fact vs. Fiction” regarding the company’s ongoing trial with Mattel. In the report, MGA asserts that the failure of Mattel’s line of Flavaz, a Bratz-like doll, indicates that “the creativity that MGA’s employees applied to the Bratz brand” made the dolls a successful venture, not the concept of the doll, alone.

Related Topic: When corporate employees defect

A 2003 article in The New York Times focused on corporate managers who begin individual endeavors in similar fields, becoming competitors of their former employers. Legal specialists urge corporate defectors to “proceed with extreme vigilance.”

RHR International senior consultant Gene Morrissy told The New York Times that he had seen an increasing number of “corporate employees leaving their jobs to start their own businesses for a host of reasons.” But the problem, Morrissy said, is that entrepreneurs often take the “ready, fire, aim” approach, without thinking “through the legal implications.”

Furthermore, hard economic times often cause companies to get “tougher on copycat former staff members,” the Times reported.

Reference: Toys Guide


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines