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Barbie Evades Bratz Slap of Antitrust Lawsuit
Mattel, maker of the fashion doll Barbie line, has won the dismissal of the antitrust lawsuit brought against them by MGA Entertainment, maker of the fashion doll Bratz line. This is just the latest in a fierce competition between Mattel, the mega-giant toy company, biggest in the world, and MGA, much smaller in comparison.
The war between the two companies began when Barbie designer Carter Bryant left Mattel to work for MGA and to create the Bratz line. In April 2004, Mattel sued and lost a claim that they owned intellectual rights to the Bratz dolls — but this was only after Mattel was awarded $100 million in 2008, only to lose it again in an appeals ruling in 2010.
Then in August, 2011 MGA was awarded $310 million in damages for attorney’s fees and legal costs in compensation for the long, bitter legal feuds against Mattel.
The latest is the suit from MGA that Mattel has violated the Sherman antitrust law, aiming to “litigate MGA to death,” with is great resources, and to solidify their dominance in the fashion doll market. Isaac Larian, MGA Chief Executive offer, is accusing Mattel of ruining Hasbro’s 2006 offer to buy Bratz for $1.1 billion. MGA is seeking $2 billion in damages.
Though U.S. District Judge David O. Carter awarded the $309 million settlement to MGA, this did not influence the latest antitrust lawsuit. MGA has noted that Mattel intimidated their vendors to bar business with MGA, and manipulated courts to submerge MGA’s business.
“Until Mattel launched its blitzkrieg on Bratz, MGA had been the most effective and serious competitor of Mattel in the fashion doll market,” claimed the federal lawsuit. “Accordingly, Mattel’s conduct has served to reinforce its fashion doll monopoly, and to impair the ability of MGA and others to compete in the relevant fashion doll market.
The antitrust suit was dropped on what MGA calls a technicality. The courts said that “MGA’s current and prior claims are the same,” and the law “bars a later claim that is based on allegation of misconduct of which the claimant was previously aware and has alleged in the prior case,” said U.S district Judge David Carter, dismissing the case with prejudice, so that it cannot be brought up again.
Larian seeks to appeal. “The judge dismissed on a technicality. We will pursue Mattel accordingly until they stop their monopolistic behavior.”
Meanwhile, Mattel Alan Hilowitz naturally finds the decision pleasing. Yet it seems the dispute between the Bratz and Barbie are far from over.