Page last updated at 07:23 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Bratz dolls given sales reprieve

Bratz dolls
Bratz-maker MGA has already paid about $100m to Mattel

Bratz dolls are to be allowed to remain on sale during 2009 after a judge gave a reprieve to their manufacturer.

MGA Entertainment had faced having to remove the brand from shops after Barbie-maker Mattel won a landmark copyright-infringement case.

Last year, a court ruled that Bratz designer Carter Bryant had developed the brand while working for Mattel.

The judge has left open the possibility that revenue from Bratz sales could go to Mattel instead of MGA.


This stay gives assurance to our retailers and licensees that business is back to normal with Bratz for 2009
Isaac Larian, MGA

In early December, a federal judge in California banned MGA from selling and making all 40 multi-ethnic dolls in the Bratz line.

But he had allowed the company to wait until after Christmas before it had to begin removing dolls from the shelves and destroy them.

The latest decision, to allow them to remain on sale this year, follows an appeal by MGA.

"This stay gives assurance to our retailers and licensees that business is back to normal with Bratz for 2009, and that all Bratz products may continue to be sold throughout the calendar year," said MGA chief executive Isaac Larian.

Mattel said it was pleased that the ruling "leaves open for later decision whether it will be Mattel, MGA or a court-appointed receiver that will be providing Bratz products during the 2009 time frame".

Sales impact

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.

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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