Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

Bratz loses battle of the dolls

Bratz dolls
Bratz dolls have taken market share from rival Barbie

Bratz dolls are facing removal from all shops after a US federal court banned parent company MGA Entertainment from making the Barbie rival.

The court issued the order after Barbie-maker Mattel won a landmark copyright-infringement case against MGA in August.

Bratz designer Carter Bryant had been found guilty of developing the Bratz brand while still working for Mattel.

MGA has challenged the ruling, which severely undermines its business model.

A federal judge in California banned MGA from selling and making all 40 multi-ethnic dolls in the Bratz line.

But it allowed the company to wait until after Christmas to begin removing dolls from the shelves.

The ruling "underscores that MGA should not be allowed to profit from its wrongdoing", said Mattel, the world's biggest toymaker.

In the most dire scenario, MGA can't sell Bratz at all and a humongous chunk of their business disappears

Sean McGowan

Mattel was awarded up to $100m (68m) in August, in the ruling of the initial copyright infringement case.

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

"In the most dire scenario, MGA can't sell Bratz at all and a humongous chunk of their business disappears," said Sean McGowan, analyst at Needham & Co.

"But it's likely they will work out a way for MGA to stay in business and Mattel to profit," he added.

The Bratz brand has been blamed for falls in Barbie sales since being first sold in 2001. The large-headed, multi-ethnic, urban fashion dolls were estimated to be making profits of about $500m a year for MGA.


Mattel, the world's biggest toymaker, won the case after claiming that Mr Bryant had designed the Bratz dolls while he was still in the employment of Mattel. The toymaker claimed that under the terms of his contract it had ownership of his designs.

Mr Bryant worked for Mattel between 1995 and April 1998 and then again from January 1999 to September 2000, and MGA argued that it was between these time frames that Mr Bryant had come up with the designs.

MGA has striven to highlight the originality of its bestselling Bratz dolls, pointing out the originality of its additions, branding and packaging.

Once the most famous doll, Barbie has ceded ever more popularity to her rival upstarts.

Barbie's worldwide gross sales fell 6% between April and June 2008 as the company's net profit fell 48% to $11.8m. Barbie sales in the US were down 21%.



1959 2001
11.5" (29.2cm) 10" (25.4cm)
Ken Bratz Boyz include Cameron and Dylan
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

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