Mattel loses Bratz battle, must pay millions

The Bratz line, which has deeply hurt Barbie sales, does not belong to Mattel, a jury decides.

By Kim Peterson Apr 21, 2011 3:19PM
Barbie just can't catch a break when it comes to those sassy Bratz dolls.

Barbie maker Mattel (MAT) got smacked down by a federal jury today, and was ordered to pay $88.5 million to rival MGA Entertainment in a dispute over the Bratz line.

In what's being called a stunning decision, the jury told Mattel that it does not own the Bratz dolls. The legal battle has been going since 2004, and one analyst said today that Mattel's failure to settle was a "tremendously bad decision" by management.

Post continues after this news report about the jury's decision:
"It means they wasted $400 million or so of shareholder money to get zero return," the analyst told Reuters. Mattel shares dropped nearly 3% after the verdict, but later recovered to $26.68, down less than 1%.

At the heart of the case is Mattel's claim that Bratz creator Carter Bryant came up with the idea for the dolls while he was working at Mattel. Mattel also says MGA secretly conspired with Bryant to steal the idea. MGA countered that the Bratz concept came to Bryant while he was on an eight-month hiatus from Mattel. 

The verdict was a momentous victory for MGA after a prolonged legal scuffle that turned ugly. Mattel executives had described a "rival-led Barbie genocide" in one internal memo, according to The Associated Press. "This is war and sides must be taken: Barbie stands for good. All others stand for evil," the memo read.

MGA's chief executive, Isaac Larian, wept as the verdict was read while Mattel's chief executive leaned back in his chair and rubbed his forehead with his hand, The Los Angeles Times reports. "It very well shows that in America, even huge corporations are not above the law," Larian told Reuters.

The whole thing may sound a little silly, but there are billions at stake. MGA has sold more than $3.3 billion in Bratz products since the dolls debuted, reaping nearly $300 million in profits, the AP reported. Barbie profits sank by nearly $400 million in that period.

The jury's decision was a complete turnaround from the first trial between the companies, in 2008. At that time, a jury awarded Mattel $100 million in damages and told MGA to hand the Bratz line over to Mattel. But that jury verdict was overturned last year, and the issue went to federal court.

Now, the question is whether the Bratz dolls have survived all the years of turmoil. The legal issue made some retailers uneasy about committing to sell Bratz, and the fashion-doll category has changed over the years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Mattel killed the Bratz brand," MGA's Larian said. "It will never be the same level it was before."

135Comments
Apr 21, 2011 4:35PM
Apr 21, 2011 6:40PM
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sorry, but barbie did not die....and never will.
the bratz dolls suck. if you want a good doll,
try american girl. i'm collecting those, and i
can, so :p! enough about barbie vs. bratz,
barbie came out first, and she will always
be better. sorry.

Apr 21, 2011 7:54PM
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Have all you Bratz-bashing "parents" (I don't really believe most of you are out of High School) ever actually played with one? Growing up, I owned both Bratz AND Barbies, but preferred Bratz  for reasons just like Nikkole said. They had "trendy" clothes (Honestly, not many of the outfits were trashy, just downright hideous) and more and better hair. Just because I played with them doesn't mean at all that I aspired to be like them. Extremely far from it, actually. I wear less makeup than nearly every girl in my High School, and I'm a huge believer in natural beauty. What you played with as a child doesn't even come close to defining you.

 

Also, have any of you SEEN a Bratz doll? Any kid who wants to look like one has serious issues. They have heads taller than their torsos, lips the size their head should be, and feet that come off. Far from the ideal image.

Apr 21, 2011 8:08PM
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When Bratz dolls first came out, some relative (on the OTHER side of the family) gave my daughter one for her birthday.  I took one look at it and threw it in the trash. 

Apr 21, 2011 5:41PM
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bratz is nasty and the dolls are gross my lil sis' friend had one and it was green and had slits all over its body so instead we bought a barbie jet for my sis, i hope bratz sinks so we dont have to see them in the isles anymore! and no1 can ever forget that barbie is all american! always has been always will be!
Apr 21, 2011 6:36PM
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To these parents who are so concerned with these trashy dolls let me just ask one question?!?! Are your parenting skills not good enough to teach your child that this is a just doll (not a role model) and her clothes differ from your clothes and this is not how you dress? I'm sorry but it's YOUR responsibility to ensure YOUR child knows what is and what is not okay. If you are not able to keep your child uninfluenced by a doll then you won't be able to stop them from using drugs, alcohol, and having sex at a young age. I am sorry but to me it is very sad that one parent would judge another parent for a toy they purchase for their child. Will you ask the mom down the street if she has bratz dolls in her home prior to allowing a sleep over? I sure hope not!! Why would you spend time criticizing a DOLL, a piece of plastic... lets all grow up and hope for the sake of our children that they do too without passing judgment on a small child or anybody for that matter for the toys they played with or for the clothes they wear!!
Apr 21, 2011 6:13PM
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My daughters both have had Barbies, AND Bratz dolls.  Between the two, my girls always preferred the Bratz dolls to Barbie.  Bratz were more trendy and in keeping with changing times.  This is the new millennium, toys evolve just like people and technology, etc.  I think it's awesome that MGA took Mattel on and refused to let their Bratz dolls be claimed by someone else.  The statement: "Barbie stands for good. All others stand for evil" really bothers me, that's not the kind of attitude of someone I want promoting their toys to my children to have and I'm sure others would agree.  Mattel is not invincible.  Welcome to a competitive market where you may not always be "top dog".
Apr 21, 2011 6:04PM
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Very happy indeed - Mattell had to find anything to stop the manufacturing and selling of Bratz dolls as they did not want any kind of competition.  I have purchased quite alot of Bratz dolls and accessories for my now 14 year old daughter and am looking forward to the day when they will be available again in stores.  Go Bratz - never mind the haters!!!!
Apr 21, 2011 5:11PM
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Bratz ARE BACK!!!! I was a long time Barbie lover as a child, but my daughters played with both and every child who comes over to play now and gets the chance to play with her Bratz dolls wishes they had them for their very own. Never under estimate the power of right and the fun and trendiness of the Bratz line. I believe they will make a come back, little girls just need the chance to own a few for themselves and they will want more. Why cant Barbie just get along, I am sure there is room for more than one type of doll for children to love.
Apr 21, 2011 4:40PM
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This is a terrible article. I can't believe the person who wrote this was actually hired by someone. I could barely follow this article, as it has no logical flow. It also fails to give the reader insight into the issue. However, I might be impressed if I were to find out it was written by a second-grader. 
Apr 21, 2011 7:34PM
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I think the bratz dolls are horrible role model toys for girls. I think they have too much make up on thier face, and thier clothes are slutty and show too much "skin". Girls don't need that kind of example of being a girl.  Mind you, when I was a girl, Barbies face had a ton of make-up on her and had an impossible waist no normal girl could have along with other attributes. Now she's far more natural looking.

 

I would never buy those dolls for my daughter. Yes, she's asked for one, and we talked about why I won't by them. Now she looks at them and says "Mom, they need a natural make over!".

 

I did buy her a barbie doll, but we still talk about real expectations of size, shape, beauty and weight. I'm 5 ft 4, I'll never be a super model, or wear a size 7 again. My daughter is on her way to being probably 5 ft 7, and wants to be a Engineer.  She's 10.

Apr 21, 2011 8:12PM
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Barbie Is Mattel's Golden Goose And Got It's Butt Kicked By A Competitor...

 So, Being The Bigger With More Money, Mattel Went After MGA In Attempts To Grab Back The Market It Lost...

 It Succeeded During The Years Of Turmoil, And By Doing So Cost MGA Profits And FUTURE Profits By Damaging Their Product Name And Momentum..

88 Million Is Hardly Enough...

 MGA Needs To Counter Sue Now And Slam Mattel BIG TIME For Further Damages...

Barbie Lost It, Bratz Line Was & Is & Will Continue To Be Awsome!!

I'm A Father Of A 12 Year Old Girl........ 

Apr 21, 2011 5:16PM
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I am 15 years old and I say Bratz all the way. Barbies are to fake and plastic. Atleast bratz have personality and don't dress in pure pink......
Apr 21, 2011 5:45PM
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I think it's funny, but Barbie had to die some day. Today's world isn't filled with blond hair, blue-eyed women/girls. Bratz at least tries to include everyone, even if they are trashy. I don't think little girls notice what they're wearing. I played with Barbies and although my mom told me that they were trashy, I never saw them as that. I just thought their clothes were cool, their high heels were pretty, etc. But why do they have boobs? I never got that. Ken doesn't have a penis- lol. 
Apr 21, 2011 8:50PM
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Bratz dolls are just trash as far as I'm concerned. They promote a lack of self -respect. Why do they dress like that? They aren't doctors or lawyers like barbie, they aren't anything except doll forms of junk like Paris Hilton. I was glad when they pulled that junk off the shelf. But then they came back in another form such as Moxie girl and Liv dolls. I don't care that Mattel lost, the point is that those dolls only prove that females should be lame and nothing more than a shallow sense of self. Our society is dwindling into a bunch of a-moral, dumb, media addicted, low educated losers. Those dolls help that outlook. I know they are JUST dolls but it's the thought that comes with those pieces of plastic. Have some dignity people!
Apr 21, 2011 9:31PM
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It's scary to know that Barbie, a somewhat innocent, blonde doll, is selling much less than the prostitute-looking Bratz dolls. Kinda makes you wonder who young girls look to as role models or what character they relate to. I'm not saying they're going to grow up to be hookers, but it DOES make you wonder.
Apr 21, 2011 7:54PM
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Let people buy whatever doll they like best. As for me, Barbie will never be beat by any other doll.  A few great reasons to love Barbie.  Barbie is a perfect example of what a feminine woman should look like. She keeps her hair and nails looking nice, wears makeup and dresses with a sense of style and class WITHOUT ever looking cheap.  Barbie cares about her weight and never makes an excuse why she has to look like a over puffed marshmallow.  Barbie is a happy person, cares about others yet keeps her strong vision and moral fiber intact.  Barbie wanted marriage but Ken did not so they split up. Barbie came out looking like a classy lady once again and was not going to let a man have his way with her without being married. 

 

Thumbs up if Barbie IS what a woman should be.   

 

Barbie YOU will always be my doll of choice.

Apr 21, 2011 6:14PM
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Hip Hip Hooray! Both my daughter (11) and I are elated.  The Bratz was a break from the same old stuff that was out when I was a child. These dolls represent the flavor that is a major part of America   The only thing the Bratz (MGA) will need now is an awesome marketing campaign. This will put the dolls back over the top!!!!
Apr 21, 2011 4:45PM
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Darnit.  I hate Bratz and loved when they were off the market.  The guy who owns MGA is a jerk, too (I know this personally).
Apr 21, 2011 7:52PM
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I have 3 daughters, and None of them will ever play with a doll that both represents and Promotes slutty behavior and dress. Our Duty as Parents is to keep them Safe and not let them behave as though they're supposed to tease and encourage boys to think of thier bodies as playthings. It's disgusting and for those who say "if you don't like it don't buy it", i think you need to reexamine your morals. It's not about race, it's about Behaviors. Bad behavior is what our society needs LESS of, not more. Courts don't matter as much as they used to, and liberals will always change and redefine to suit moods. Our duty lies in Protecting and Teaching our kids to promote Respect, Good Choices and Good Behavior. If you think it's about Race, then You're the one with the Issue-and i'll be happy when you step over the line to escort you to Tent City. Hint, Hint? LEO, baby!!
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