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Marketplace Morning Report

Mattel and MGA continue legal battle over Bratz

Jennifer Collins Jan 14, 2011
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JEREMY HOBSON: The world’s largest toymaker will be back in court today. Mattel — the maker of the Barbie Doll — is in a battle with MGA Entertainment over the origin of that company’s Bratz dolls. Mattel claims it is the rightful owner of those sassy little dolls with big eyes.

Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins has more from Los Angeles.


Jennifer Collins: Back in 2008, a judge ruled Bratz dolls should belong to Mattel. But last year, an appeals court reversed the ruling. And in a flash, the Bratz were back on the shelves.

Bratz commercial: The Bratz are back with a passion, with a passion for fashion.

Toy analyst Sean McGowan says the thing is, the dolls don’t spark that much ‘passion’ among their young consumers anymore.

Sean McGowan: Well, that’s the irony as whoever winds up winning, may wind up winning something that isn’t really worth fighting over anymore.

McGowan says Bratz aren’t earning even half of what they once made in the face of competition from other dolls, including Barbie. In the latest court battle, Mattel says MGA stole its trade secrets. MGA says Mattel employees disguised themselves to sneak into its showrooms. Ira Winkler is a corporate espionage expert.

Ira Winkler: It’s really hard to say what’s going to happen in this case. The only certainty you have is that the lawyers are making a lot of money in this case.

MGA says its legal fees alone are more than $150 million.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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