Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Bratz dolls to remain on shelves in Mattel-MGA battle

Bratz dolls
Bratz dolls have sold well since their launch in 2001

Bratz dolls will remain on sale next year following the latest court ruling in a long-running copyright dispute.

The doll's makers, MGA Entertainment, had been ordered to stop selling the dolls and transfer ownership to its rival Mattel in January.

But a US appeals court has now suspended that order.

The court is still considering its verdict in the legal dispute between MGA and Mattel over the rights to the Bratz range.

Long-running dispute

Last year, a US court ruled that MGA's sale of the Bratz range breached copyright laws.

It agreed with MGA's rival Mattel that the doll's designer, Carter Bryant, had been working for Mattel when he designed the dolls, giving the company the rights to the design.

Later rulings ordered MGA to stop selling the dolls and hand over the designs to Mattel.

But in the latest court decision, judges questioned whether an earlier court ruling had gone too far in awarding ownership of the Bratz range to Mattel, suggesting it was "draconian".

They also questioned Mattel's employment contracts, and ordered both sides to try to come to an agreement on the dispute out of court.

However, the judges did not indicate when they would come to a final decision on the case.

Barbie rival

Lawyers for MGA said that the company faced "imminent demise" if the Bratz range were taken away.

"The court's stay is good news for all Bratz fans and for anyone who cares about fair competition," said Isaac Larian, chief executive of MGA.

"It keeps Bratz on the shelves [and] allows MGA Entertainment to continue meeting consumer demand for new Bratz products."

MGA's lawyers have accused Mattel of a determination to destroy the Bratz brand.

Bratz has established itself as a genuine rival to Mattel's Barbie doll since its launch in 2001.

The dolls are estimated to make MGA profits of $500m (£307m) a year.

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