Mattel Inc., home to the Barbie doll, is now claiming that it owns MGA Ent. Inc.'s rival Bratz doll, part of a new legal fight over a toy that has stripped the toy giant of a chunk of anticipated Barbie sales, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL.
In court papers filed in U.S. District Court, Central California, on Nov. 20, 2006, (obtained by the WALL STREET JOURNAL), Mattel claims ownership to the Bratz empire because its former employee, named Carter Bryant, conceived the doll while he worked as a Barbie designer.
Mattel has obtained drawings of the Bratz line made by Bryant during his Mattel employment, according to the JOURNAL, which was around 1999.
In 2004, Mattel sued Bryant, charging that he secretly worked for a competitor while still employed by Mattel, and that he misappropriated intellectual property.
Mattel asked a federal judge to allow it to amend the lawsuit based on new information and findings on Monday. Mattel also has filed for copyright protection for a number of the drawings, the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.
In a statement, MGA accused Mattel of seeking, "revenge on a few people who have chosen to work for a better, more innovative toy company after realizing that Mattel has lost touch with its consumers and is hopelessly caught in a downward spiral resulting from mismanagement.
"In the past five years, Mattel has failed miserably at fair competition through product innovation," said Isaac Larian, ceo of MGA. "Apparently feeling they have no better option, its executive management is now resorting to filing a baseless and improper complaint against MGA and some of its employees. We feel confident that the District Court will see through Mattel's desperation and vindicate MGA and its employees, just as the same individuals defamed in Mattel's new pleading were vindicated when Mattel previously attempted to pursue criminal claims in Mexico and Canada."
This latest suit comes more than five years after Bratz hit the retail shelves. Bratz dolls have been featured in a number of animated DVDs and a TV series, which launched in 2005 on 4Kids TV.
On Nov. 10, Lionsgate announced it had acquired from Crystal Sky Pictures the U.S. distribution rights to the first feature film based on the popular BRATZ characters, tentatively entitled, BRATZ: THE MOVIE. Crystal Sky Pictures is financing the live-action feature film, directed by Sean McNamara (RAISE YOUR VOICE, THAT'S SO RAVEN) and written by Susan Estelle Jansen (THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE). MGA's Isaac Larian, Arad Prods.' Avi Arad, and Crystal Sky's Steven Paul are producing the picture, and Crystal Sky Pictures president Benedict Carver will exec produce.
Headquartered in Van Nuys, California, MGA Ent. (www.mgae.com) manufactures innovative lines of proprietary and licensed products, including toys and games, dolls, consumer electronics, home decor, stationery and sporting goods. The MGA family includes such brands as the award-winning Bratz, Bratz Babyz, Bratz Kidz, Lil' Bratz, Yummi-land, Storytime Collection, Rescue Pets, Miuchiz and the newly acquired Little Tikes brand.