I’m going to guess that there’s a good chance you don’t track the doll market, but there’s been a very interesting intellectual property case that’s been brewing for a few years, pitting toy colossus Mattel (NYSE: MAT) against upstart MGA Entertainment. The dueling dolls? Barbie versus Bratz.
I’ve actually written about this case before, on my parenting blog, muchly because I so loath the Bratz line and all it represents for young girls and its terrible impact on both their self-image and understanding of how their sexuality allows them to fail or succeed in modern society. See: Hey Mattel! Now you can put Bratz to sleep once and for all. (yeah, it’s a bit biased)
After a few months of legal arguments and deliberations, let me quote the Wall Street Journal’s report of the outcome:
“U.S. District Court in Riverside, Calif., essentially handed over MGA’s pouty-lipped, hip-hop-themed Bratz franchise to Mattel, the maker of the iconic Barbie, whose sales have been undercut by the upstart Bratz in recent years. Judge Stephen G. Larson’s ruling came several months after a federal jury found that the Bratz dolls were originally conceived by a designer who worked at Mattel and surreptitiously took the concept to MGA.”
Of course MGA is complaining and saying that they’ll appeal, but I mean, come on, guys, if you want to complain about fairness, then maybe you shouldn’t have hired the Mattel toy designer and started manufacturing dolls that he designed while at Mattel.
I’m really pleased at this ruling and hope that Mattel either completely shut down the entire Bratz brand or, at a minimum, retool these dolls to be a bit less pouty sluts and a bit more cute young girls that actually don’t reinforce all that’s messed up about our cultural view of girls and sexuality.
This can be done through Mattel ultimately licensing the Bratz line to MGA and requiring that they make it a bit more wholesome or bringing the brand in-house, but either way, now’s your golden moment, Mattel Brand President Neil Friedman. Do what’s right for your brand, your corporate image, and the millions of girls who enjoy the Mattel doll lines as playthings.
Don’t count on them axing the Bratz any time soon. Now they can sell “wholesome” Barbies (formerly “impossible dimensions” Barbies) and “edgy” Bratz and have the entire market cornered. Although our girls like the Bratz, we are fortunate that they like Barbies even more. And we have been able to almost evade Bratz toys in our house…but not quite.
What is wrong with you guys… where is nothing wrong with liking the Bratz. They are role models to young girls in a positive way… so get over it. I grow up loving and believing in Bratz. They tough me about fashion, friendships, and life. And look at me now… when I grow up I am going to be a fashion designer and makeup artist. So stop blaming the dolls… because it’s making you sound immature. By the way… barbies and bratz are totally different. Bratz show that girls can do anything and Barbies are fake. If bratz leave forever… they will blame all the adults in the world and I am pretty sure u don’t want your daughters hating you because they won’t be able to buy bratz dolls anymore.
Hi Dave, your twitter post containing the words “Axe the entire Bratz line” caught my eye and I was compelled to read more. Could it be true I was hoping, with my fingers crossed so tight I’ve now got red knuckles 🙂
Glad to see someone else share my views about the drivel that’s rammed down our kids throats everyday. Sadly both my daughter and my son like Bratz, even after my 2 hour lecture about the unrealistic lives the Bratz lead – my kids still like to watch it. So there you have it, my kids don’t care what I think about Bratz and I’ve officially turned into my Dad – Blimey!
Flippin Kids TV – Cuh!
Cheers Dave, glad to know I’m not alone – there’s still hope.
The finding that hundreds of Bratz products infringed Mattel copyrights does not bode well for MGA. If nothing changes between now and February, MGA will have to recall the dolls and destroy the plates and molds.
The doll designer who invented the Bratz concept while under contract with Mattel, was found to have secretly sold it to MGA. This underscores the importance of having detailed employment and work-for-hire contracts that address intellectual property.
Nicely said about the fairness of this decision. People who are lamenting MGA’s fate evidently don’t understand that thieves have to return the property they stole when they are are caught.
Mattel: Hey judge! There was a designer who presented an idea to us years ago that we turned down because we wanted to continue making product girls were buying less and less of. But another company used the idea and through innovation and hard work, created a succesful line out of it. We can’t beat them fairly, so we’d like to sue them to death.
Judge: Great idea! And in this spiraling economy, thousands of people will lose their jobs at MGA!
They turned down the idea. They would have never used it.
Furthermore, designers do “moonlighting” for competing companies all the time. It may not be legal, but they do. Mattel is just as guilty of it. Believe me I know from personal experience.
As a mother of a son, I have not kept up with the other gender’s attractions. My biggest concerns have been with the extreme violence of video gaming and online social networks that keep boys steamed up–the other kind of steaming comes easily enough when you walk through the “juniors” section of any department store. Those kind of clothes used to be for the lingerie biz–not 14 year olds.
How does any parent with both genders have the strength to battle double troubles? Too bad the court decision could not address the product itself…that looks to be a separate fight.
I couldn’t agree more about the need to axe brats. I too, like an earlier commenter saw the title of the post and thought “Please God, let this be true!”. You can be sure that Mattel will not kill bratz. It goes against the entire psychopathic ethos of corporate activity. Too much market share at stake. Someone just needs to start a blog called killthebratz.com and post regularly, with great vengeance!
I doubt Mattel will kill the Bratz line… In reality it’s up to the market. If overnight people grow some kind of moral code that says that selling sex to young people is more than a little creepy, it wouldn’t be too long before Bratz would be gone. So to parents out there, stop buying Bratz dolls. Don’t you know that by buying bratz dolls you are giving your child, your seal of approval, to dress and behave like that. Is that what you want… a pregnant 13-year old? Parents grow some cojones!
this is stupid i dnt no why people are calling bratz girls sluts barbie are the sluts they arnt role models if you see all the bratz dolls colection you will see that they arnt sluts
mattel should accept the fact that bratz are better than them or wrk together with mga so bratz will not get shut down!
PLEASE DONT CLOSE BRATZ DOWN THEY ARE THE BEST!
Hi i think you should just take the dolls back,
then publish them as your own because lets be honest even 9 year olds play with them, but kids stop playing with barbies when thier 7 so what if there a bit wierd girls like the an awful lot more than barbies.
p.s.dont say its barbaric what ive said, but still just take a bit off the puffy lips if you do whatr my opinion says.
Oh come on! Have any of these people seen the shows\movies? At least the characters portrayed in the Bratz shows exhibit quality values. Friendship, perseverance, determination, compassion, since when have these become deplorable characteristics.
Sure some of the outfits are ‘edgy’ but is it better to tell our kids that it is acceptable to judge people based on appearances?
I think back to what was on when I was growing up: Looney Tunes, G.I. Joe, Strawberry Shortcake, Smurfs. Were any of these realistic portrayals of life? (Well, the Smurfs were a superb example of Communism in the midst of the Cold War but that seemed to get by media watchdogs at the time).
Maybe we need to take a step back and relax a bit. To despise a line of toys is as ridiculous as to expect an animated children’s program to accuratley reflect life. I agree, based on the legal legitimacy of the Mattel claim, that the ethics behind the creation of brand was dubious but, I would be sad to see the toys off the market.
And for anyone vilifying MGA based on the “slutty” appearance of the dolls, check out Mattel’s My Scene line. At least the Bratz are made to look like cartoon characters. The My Scene dolls look like miniature prostitutes.
Had the My Scene girls been given personalities maybe I’d have a reason to alter that opinion. Maybe I’d take some time to learn about their values and what drives them because deep down I know I shouldn’t waste my energy pre-judging molded plastic, but rather spend the it raising my kids to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, right and wrong and, how to be a good, respectful person.
I agree with Pat! Bratz are cool and should not be shut down just because Mattel is jealous!
Come on, lets be real for a second! Bratz have been around for 8 years and Mattel is just now sueing them! It makes no sense! If a worker from Mattel really did design it then Mattel should have sued sooner! Besides the creator of Apple worked at HP when he designed it and you don’t see HP sueing Apple. This is the same thing pretty much! Bratz are so much better than Barbies..their cooler and have better fashion sense! Barbies are based on T.V. prostitutes. So if either should be shut down it should be the Barbie line!
I think you should stop typing, take a deep breath, stand up and back away from your computer. You have no basis of comparison from which to base your slanty-eyed opinion. Barbie herself/itself was a doll whose creators stole the idea of her from a German cigar store creation! In fact, the basis for Barbie came from this “doll” named Bild Lilli, and was intended to be a novelty piece geared toward entertaining men. At least Bratz dolls were created for girls and women in mind!
I am an adult collector of both Bratz dolls and Barbie doll playsets. I like to think I know a lot about each one. I also think that if you have a one-sided opinion about something, at least do a little bit of research. I also think that if you’re going to dismiss one group of toys as inappropriate for children, offer us your “expert” opinion and give us an alternative! Truth is, children are going to be curious about a whole lot of things, whether they are scantily-clad (in your opinion) fashion dolls, or how dinosaurs lived many years ago. Are you going to take the time to explain everything to your children, or just dismiss it entirely?
Truthfully, I am sick of the whole “Bratz vs. Barbie” debate. It’s the year 2010, and last time I looked, I still live in America. Whatever happened to freedom of choice? If I have the extra cash to splurge on something fun for myself, then I feel I should be able to do so.
In a free-market democracy I think it’s not only good, but essential that people speak up for what they like and dislike, ideally explaining their position, but that’s certainly not necessary. I respect – and defend – your right to disagree with me. That’s what makes America a strong nation (for all our troubles). Thanks for sharing your view with us, Vanessa, and don’t be surprised if I disagree…
I’m a big fan of Bratz dolls and I have since they came out. I don’t see how they were “Disgusting clothes” If it was that bad people would already make them to stop keeping them in stores… Nearly every girl loves them. I Know HEAPS of people who do and none of them want to dress like them. God, they keep girls happy, entertained and busy. This is stupid. I don’t try to dress like them. When I was little, I used always have fun playing with them, and I still do now and then. I don’t see how Long shirts, jumpers, long pants, shorts and basically everything we wear are disgusting! They were basically the exact same stuff as us!! It seems that Bratz are more popular then Barbies. So whats the “Actual” reason to close down Bratz? It’s a really bad idea, it will make LOADS of girls angry and sad.
How possible you can be so concern about a toy? about a dolls? maybe you have better things to do?
I do not see nothing bad in the cloth of the Bratz dolls, each piece or their clothings is a piece of art.
The faces and the body of Bratz dolls Boyz and Girlz are so beautiful and innocent. maybe the beauty of your faces make you angry? it means that this kind of beauty is not admitted or acceptable in our society? because beauty represent being slut as some of the comments above identify bratz dolls?
The time is running and our kids are not nuns or monks, they have right to be beautiful without being identify as slutes or bad persons.
you should show more maturity in your comments.
Instead of criticizing you design your own dolls and sell therm or design cloth lines for the bratz and sell them to the companies.
Be creative no destructive!!!!
With all my beaty and love, best regards.
hi. i must say that i loved bratz and barbies when i was younger the bratz were the more stylish outgoing dolls while the barbies were the toned down ones. i loved barbies but the pieces were so easy to lose. bratz were easier to keep track of. i have a 7 year old niece that loves barbies and bratz but she is sad that she cant get them anymore.(well you can but not the original dolls) the barbies were great but they were in the past brats were the future but now there is the “monster high” dolls, worry about them there dressed in short skirts, and are zombies, vampires, frankenstein etc.
I have one of the original dollswintertime wondorland 3505126039 never been opened Sasha.is it worth any thing