BRATZ/BARBIE: Jury rules for Mattel

Mattel has won a major victory in its copyright infringement lawsuit against Bratz maker MGA.
Publish date:
Social count:

Mattel won a major victory in its copyright infringement lawsuit against the maker of the rival Bratz dolls.

A jury ruled that a designer conceived the doll characters while working for Mattel, the world's largest toymaker. The ruling could potentially mean millions of dollars for Mattel when the jury considers possible damages during a separate proceeding.

The news of the verdict came after the close of regular-session trading on Wall Street, but Mattel's shares shot up $1.22, or 6.7 per cent, to $19.50 in after-hours dealings.

Mattel has claimed it owned the rights to the Bratz line because its creator, Carter Bryant, came up with the concept while working for Mattel.

The jury also ruled that MGA and its Chief Executive Officer Isaac Larian were liable for converting Mattel property for their own use and intentionally interfering with the contractual duties owed by Bryant to Mattel.

"MGA and Isaac Larian took what did not belong to them," John Quinn, a lawyer for Mattel, said during a conference call detailing the verdict.

Larian said in a prepared statement that MGA will prevail in the upcoming damages phase of the case or possibly in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

"This is because it is undisputed that MGA -not Carter Bryant - independently created the Bratz dolls," Larian said. "Carter Bryant did not have anything to do with the many Bratz-related products we created, such as Bratz Babyz, Lil' Bratz and Bratz Kidz."

The statement noted that jurors must still decide if Mattel owns any copyrights involving Bryant's drawings. If so, the jury must rule on whether the dolls infringe on those copyrights.

Mattel attorneys argued Bryant worked for the company between September 1995 and April 1998 and then returned for a second stint at Mattel between January 1999 and October 2000.

He signed an agreement that gave Mattel the right to anything he designed while employed there, the lawyers argued.

Mattel said MGA began showing Bratz prototypes a month after Bryant left Mattel and began selling the hugely popular dolls in toy stores five months later.

But Bryant testified during the six-week trial that the sketches he showed MGA in 2000 were transferred from originals he made in the summer of 1998 - between his two employment stints with Mattel - that were inspired as he watched kids walking from school, Steve Madden shoe ads in Seventeen magazine, and the cover of a Dixie Chicks album.

MGA has countersued, saying Mattel changed the design of its own My Scene dolls to more closely resemble the Bratz line and used its leverage with retailers to stifle competition.


Featured Jobs

Vivid Job Logo 620 x 349

Digital Marketing Executive - Toys & Games

Vivid is Britain’s biggest toy company and the 20 largest in the world. With offices across the globe, they sell an amazing portfolio of toys and games to over 60 countries. Vivid is best known for its association with blockbuster brands and is very excited about future opportunities around the world.


UK Sales Agents

Liberty House Toys have been appointed as the exclusive UK distributor for the BiOBUDDi brand, and we are pleased to introduce this new unique, innovative and exciting range of 100% environmentally-friendly toy building blocks. We are seeking experienced sales agents with existing network in the toy retail market.

Gameplan Job Logo 620 x 349

Head of Product Development & Marketing

Our client is a privately owned French toy and games manufacturer which sells through distributors in forty countries. The company develops and sells innovative electronic interactive toys and games for the educational and gaming markets, and also takes suitable licenses. To progress its successful business development a Head of Product Development & Marketing is to to recruited.

HIT Entertainment Job Logo 620 x 349

Licensing Systems Administrator

The Contract System Coordinator is a newly created role to support the deal term entry process into Mattel’s new Contract Management System for its Licensing business. The role will support the Business Teams at the Deal & Amendment phase of the contracting process and act in conjunction with the System Administration team.