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.