MGA banned from making Bratz dolls

Mattel Intellectual Property

08.12.2008

The company behind the hugely popular Bratz dolls has been banned from making and selling the toys following a four-year legal battle with rival Mattel.

Mattel hailed the sweeping decision by US District Judge Stephen Larson as a major victory in its fight with MGA Entertainment.

Judge Stephen Larson ordered MGA Entertainment to immediately stop manufacturing the pouty-lipped dolls, but said it can wait until the end of the festive season before it has to remove the toys from store shelves.

The decision was a stunning defeat for MGA, which made hundreds of millions of pounds in profits after exploding onto the tween scene in 2001 with the edgy, urban-influenced dolls.

The US federal court ruling followed a jury's finding that Bratz doll designer Carter Bryant developed the concept for the Bratz dolls while working for Mattel.

Copyright © Press Association 2008

Joanne Bone from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Carter Bryant used to be employed by Mattel and the dispute surrounded whether Mattel owned the rights to the dolls as his employer. Under English law if an employee creates copyright or other intellectual property rights in the course of their employment then the general rule is that the rights will be owned by the employer. The devil is in the detail however and the position is slightly different for the different rights. There are therefore regularly disputes as to who owns rights where there is an employment relationship.

"This is an issue which affects all types of businesses from engineering to software development and it is important to work out early on in the development of a product whether the designer individually or their employer owns the rights in it. As the Bratz manufacturers found out it can be very expensive to get it wrong."