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Mattel Puts Brakes on Bratz

Licensing

Mattel Puts Brakes on Bratz

Don’t mess with Barbie. That’s the message MGA Ent. got last night when U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson granted Mattel’s request for an injunction to stop the Van Nuys, Calif.-based company from selling certain Bratz products, including the top-selling fashion dolls. The order will be stayed until February of 2009 while the court considers additional legal briefing on post-trial issues. MGA intends to immediately appeal the decision, and will request that the stay be extended pending resolution of the appeal.

‘We believe the jury verdict was clear in denying 99% of Mattel’s copyright infringement claim and that issuing such a broad injunction is inconsistent with the limited jury verdict and the law,’ says MGA CEO Isaac Larian.

Mattel’s lawsuit lingered in court for nearly two years until a jury finally ruled in favor of Mattel this past August. Mattel was reportedly awarded $100 million for copyright infringement, though MGA claims that judgment was for $20 million.

The latest blow comes in the thick of the holiday shopping season, which has historically been a very lucrative period for the Bratz brand. As word gets around, the news could cause a run on Bratz dolls since they might not be available come February.

MGA execs say they were shocked by the verdict since Judge Larson previously stated that Mattel’s request was ‘quite a leap,’ and that ‘the measurable value to Bratz, the brand Bratz, to the dolls Bratz, to everything that came of it, is so much a function of what Isaac Larian and his team at MGA put into it.’

Saddled with hefty legal fees, MGA had to lay off 70 employees in October. Larian notes that the company currently employs more than 1,500 people, and hints that more layoffs would be inevitable if Mattel succeeds in stopping the sale of Bratz dolls, which have seriously bit into the sales of its own iconic Barbie products. Barbie sales have reportedly dipped 15% since the Bratz strutted onto the scene. Mattel recently cut about 1,000 jobs worldwide.

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