Mattel wins court case against Bratz dolls
The world's largest toy maker, Mattel, on Friday won a court case against competitor MGA, maker of the Bratz dolls that have drawn customers away from its classic Barbie dolls, dpa reported.
A 10-member federal jury in Riverside, California, ruled that the design for the Bratz, with their modern, urban look and cartoonish large heads and eyes, was conceived by designer Carter Bryant while he was working under contract at Mattel.
It found MGA's chief executive Isaac Larian interfered with Bryant's contractual duties, taking Mattel property for MGA's use.
"Today's decision is a victory not only for Mattel, but for all those who believe in fair play," chief executive Robert Eckert said. "While the case has been very complicated, the underlying principle has been a simple one: you shouldn't take what isn't yours."
In the next stage of the case, the jury will determine if the dolls themselves infringe on the designs owned by Mattel and award any damages. The Bratz dolls are worth 1 billion dollars.
Earlier Friday, Mattel said its second quarter earnings were down steeply on weaker sales of its Barbie dolls, which have been hurt since Bratz were introduced several years ago.
Net profits fell by nearly half to 11.8 million dollars, or 3 cents per share, from 22.8 million dollars, or 6 cents per share, in the year-earlier period, the El Segundo, California-based firm said.
Total sales rose 11 per cent to 1.1 billion dollars driven by stronger international demand, which was up 15 per cent, while US sales suffered as the result of a weaker economy, dropping 3 per cent.
Mattel had fallen into the red in the first quarter and analysts had predicted an even steeper decline in profits for the reporting period.
Toys tied to the hit films Speed Racer and Kung Fu Panda were good earners for the toy giant, which was also aided by strong sales of its Fisher Price brand and American Girl dolls. Figures tied to the new Batman film are expected to provide an added boost to summer sales, Eckert said.