Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 14:16 UK

Barbie firm wins Bratz court case

Bratz dolls

Mattel has triumphed in a copyright court case against the maker of the popular Bratz dolls, MGA Entertainment.

A California court ruled that the creator of Bratz dolls, Carter Bryant, came up with the idea while he was working for Mattel.

It means that Mattel could be awarded millions of dollars when the jury comes to consider damages.

MGA Entertainment could even be stopped from selling the popular large-headed, multi-ethnic, urban fashion dolls.

Mattel had claimed that the name and design of Bratz dolls were based on drawings done by Carter Bryant while he was under a contract that entitled the world's biggest toymaker to his designs.

Mattel shares rose 4.4% in after-hours trading.

Confidential settlement

MGA argued that while Mr Bryant had worked for Mattel between 1995 and April 1998 and then again from January 1999 to September 2000, the idea had come to him in the gap between his two stints.

Mr Bryant himself reached a confidential settlement with Mattel on the eve of the trial.

The jury also ruled that MGA and its chief executive Isaac Larian had intentionally interfered with the contractual duties that Mr Bryant owed to Mattel as well as aiding and abetting his breach of loyalty.

Mr Larian said he was confident MGA "will prevail in the end", suggesting that there will be an appeal against the verdict.

He is expected to claim in the damages phase of the trial that the dolls themselves do not breach Mattel's copyright because they were converted from Mr Bryant's drawings by MGA's designers.

Nonetheless, the damages awarded are expected to be hefty as Bratz dolls are estimated to be making profits of about $500m (250m) a year.

Mattel results

Barbie has been losing market share since Bratz came on the market and Mattel's three-month results on Friday showed a further fall.

Barbie's worldwide gross sales fell 6% between April and June as the company's net profit fell 48% to $11.8m.

Barbie sales in the US were down 21%.

The results were better-than-expected, as falling Barbie sales were partly made up for by stronger sales of toys tied to big summer films such as Batman: The Dark Knight, Speed Racer and Kung Fu Panda.

Head to head


1959 2001
11.5" (29.2cm) 10" (25.4cm)
Ken Bratz Boyz include Cameron and Dylan
Latest film
Barbie as the Island Princess (2007) Bratz: the movie (2007)
Three-story dreamhouse with sizzling stove and flushing toilet Bratz Mansion with dance floor that lights up
Ruth Handler saw her daughter Barbara imagining her paper dolls in grown-up roles Carter Bryant based drawings on children he saw walking from school, Steve Madden shoe adverts and the cover of a Dixie Chicks album

Barbie and Bratz makers in court
28 May 08 |  Business
Characters who 'shaped the world'
19 Oct 06 |  Americas
Vintage Barbie struts her stuff
22 Sep 06 |  Business
Bratz topple Barbie from top spot
09 Sep 04 |  Business

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