Fashion Law Barbie has won her latest case. A court in California has thrown out a jury verdict against Mattel Inc, in the latest twist in its long running battle against MGA Entertainment, over the right to the pouty lipped Bratz fashion dolls.
The lawsuit began in 1994 when Mattel alleged that Carter Byrant, a former designer of the Barbie line, came up with the idea for Bratz while still employed by Mattel. Mattel claim that he violated the ‘inventions clause’ in his contract when he took the drawings for the dolls to MGA when he went to work there.
MGM filed a counterclaim against Mattel, accusing it of corporate spying and unfair business practices.
The Bratz line outsold Barbie in the United Kingdom in 2004 and was said to have contributed to the 30% drop in sales of Barbie dolls in 2005.
Following many twists and turns in the saga, a U.S. jury decided that MGA Entertainment Inc was the rightful owner of the billion dollar line of the Bratz dolls in 2011. The jury found Mattel misappropriated trade secrets from MGA and awarded MGA $88.5 million in damages. Although the jury also decided that MGA had interfered with Mattel’s contract with Carter Bryant, they awarded only $10,000 in damages to Mattel.
Last week, the Federal Appeals ruled that that MGA should not have been allowed to present its trade secret claims against Mattel to the jury, because they were not sufficiently related to Mattel’s original allegations. Although Mattel does not have to pay the $272 million in damages, the court did uphold the trial judge’s decision to award MGA $137.2 million for having to defend against Mattel’s claims that MGA’s Bratz dolls infringed Mattel’s copyrights.
Will this be end of Barbie’s battle? Since the mid noughties the Bratz doll boom has died significantly and she doesn’t present the threat to Barbie that she once did. So why bother with the continued legal war? Mattel are sending a message out – Barbie is not to be messed with – this 54 year old beauty queen will not go down without a fight!