Court reverses Mattel win over Barbie copyright

July 23, 2010

, LOS ANGELES, Jul 23 – An appeals court has overturned a copyright win for toymaker Mattel in a lengthy battle over the Bratz doll, which Mattel claimed was modeled after its hugely popular Barbie doll.

A three-judge panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday in favor of Bratz maker MGA Entertainment, reversing a lower court ruling that said the idea for Bratz was stolen from Barbie.

"Mattel can\’t claim a monopoly over fashion dolls with a bratty look or attitude, or dolls sporting trendy clothing — these are all unprotectable ideas," chief judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the court.

The ruling found errors by the lower court judge and concluded that a jury award of 10 million dollars from two years ago is probably invalid because "the entire case will need to be retried."

The lower court had found that a former Mattel employee who conceived the Bratz dolls had violated his contract with Mattel by taking the idea to MGA.

The judges sent the case back to federal district court to determine the next step in the case.

MGA launched Bratz dolls in June 2001 and they quickly became Barbie\’s top competitor, racking up more than one billion dollars in annual sales and cutting into Barbie\’s market dominance.

MGA said in a statement it "is deeply grateful to the court for confirming … that the American dream lives."

Company founder Isaac Larian said MGA would relaunch "a stunning new line of Bratz products," in August.

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