Friday, December 05, 2008

Bratz Dolls Banned!

In a stunning court decision, the popular doll line Bratz has been...BANNED!

MGA Entertainment, Inc. has been ordered by a judge to stop selling and manufacturing Bratz, as a result of a lawsuit brought on by rival Mattel over copyright infringement. Mattel's story was that a designer working for them came up with the concept for Bratz, the went to the rival company with the idea.

Just to give you some perspective, it would be like if DC took Marvel to court over Spider-Man or something and the judge decided to ban Spider-Man comics. It's a big, big deal in the toy industry, because Bratz is a #1 selling doll.

Personally, I really don't like the Bratz dolls, because I think they are hyper-sexualized for a really young age group. I'd rather buy my children American Girl dolls. So yeah, basically, I'd be that "boring parent" who is no fun and is trying to destroy my child's social life.

In other news, sales of Barbie dolls are down 15%.


  1. Good! They're so expensive! 3 of my 5 nieces are into dolls, and that is the thing to get. Christmas....birthdays...for these mini Paris Hiltons...ugh!

  2. I have mixed feelings on this. As a father of two girls I kind of like the idea of the dolls going away because they are so trashy. But, as a creator/artist type, man, this is a scary precedent. Yeah, if the creator was working for Mattel and his contract said what he created there was theirs then Mattel is due some retribution. What's right is right but... man, it's a pretty brutal outcome. Especially considering the jobs that will be lost. It's like the DC vs. Shazam thing but Shazam gets killed, canceled and the people working on the books get thrown in the street. It's also a scary precedent in the whole ongoing work-for-hire struggle.

    As a side note, Bratz also makes a line of little pet dudes that are an obvious theft of Littlest Pet Shop.

  3. I'd rather buy my daughter American Girl dolls too, but those things are $100 a pop!

    So I got her a resin cold cast statue of Wonder Woman instead. :)

  4. I'm glad that Bratz Dolls won't be sold anymore. I always tought that they were ugly. Especially because of their collagene-filled lips. I always loved Barbie better. At least, she was an aspiring role-model as a doctor, police officer, astronaut and even a U.S. President. Long live Barbie!

  5. Sure that they don´t have a Superheroine version.

    Barbies have Wonder Woman Barbie, Supergirl Barbie and Catwoman Barbie.

    Barbies forever!!!

  6. Good. I'd never get those things for my kid, and I'd hope I'd never have a kid that'd want them. Barbies too, if I could help it, but they're the lesser of two evils.

  7. Claiming there's a scary precedent set here makes the error of thinking that this scenario is anything like the maddeningly gray area of intellectual property, where everyone and no one has the ability to claim ownership of an idea. If Mattel has evidence that says the idea was conceived on their watch and their time, they own it. Case closed. It's not even a close to a precedent.

    I can't say I'm sorry at all. I always steer my girls away from them when they ask to buy one in the store.

    On the other end of the spectrum - I literally have a crate of American Girl stuff that they're both getting for Christmas. I'm poor now.

  8. Not surprising that Barbie sales are down, particularly. Everything's probably down in this market. Also, Mattel really hasn't been updating the brand with the times very effectively.

    As far as Bratz goes, is it really a new precedent? I mean, it's basically a copyright ownership issue. If the guy was an employee of Mattel, then everything he made or pitched belonged to Mattel. If he got written approval to do it on his own or shop it elsewhere, that would've been one thing. But I don't believe he did.

    Anyway. Agree with most of the senitments elsewhere. Now if we could just address the horrible clothes (T-shirts that say "Hottie" or "flirt" across them in glitter, or sweatpants with cute phrases emblazoned on their butts).


  9. Oh, and I didn't mean that is scary that the courts would find in favor of Mattel. If it was clear to the guy that what he created at Barbie belonged to Barbie then what is the law is the law. What is scary to me is the financial impact on those that will lose jobs that had no involvement in the creation of these things. Again with the Shazam example, the kept making Shazam. Not that is a lot smaller and a lot fewer people but simply put, Shazam lived and people continued to have jobs because of it. (Not necessarily the same people but... over the years, radio, TV, comics etc.) With this thing, if enforced as is, Bratz is done. Done as in, jobs gone and future revenue gone. And it is a lot more jobs and revenue than Shazam. You would think it would be worth more to Mattel to have the thing generate revenue for them than it would for it to generate revenue for no one.
    But what do I know? I'm trying to figure out where I can sell some blood to buy diapers.

  10. I've always detested those creepy little fuckers.

    Shame about creative rights, yeah, but damn the environment - burn them all.

  11. Bratz! Besides the sexualization of little kids, you get the infantilization of women in the package!

  12. I need to read the actual case before I have a firm opinion on this decision. I think the Bratz dolls are atrocious too, but given my experience (I am an IP (primarily patent) attorney at a sizable corportion), I can imagine Mattel being the bad guy in this one.

    Now, I have yet to read the actual decision where the jury decided that the inventor invented the doll while working at Mattel, but I wonder whether the inventor tried to get Mattel interested before leaving. Based upon my experience, I can envision the following scenario.

    ***** CONJECTURE *******

    The inventor designed these new dolls with slightly anime features and sexier (sluttier) outfits. He went to his superiors at Mattel and tried to sell them on it. They responded with "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." They would also have been concerned with brand image and other legitimate concerns.

    He also signed some sort of employment agreement that included a clause that stated that anything he created while in Mattel's employ would be owned by Mattel (maybe there would be a subject matter limitation, but probably not). The inventor then may have left because Mattel was not going to do anything with his invention. He licensed his idea to another company or started his own company and pursued his vision, which was wildly successful. Mattel, who did not want anything to do with the idea, filed suit because they are losing their lunch in the doll arena.

    ***** END CONJECTURE *****

    If that is close to the truth, my problem would be that Mattel made the wrong business decision and that there would be no billion dollar Bratz line if the inventor had stayed at Mattel.

    Businesses will often not allow inventors/creators to pursue ideas that the business has zero interest in pursuing. Then those ideas go out the back door and people are pissed.

    A comic book analogy would be if Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had worked for DC and had signed an agreement that any concept they came up with while in the employ of DC would be owned by DC, they presented the idea to DC, DC rejected it, and and DC filed suit when Spider-man was huge because they could show the initial concept was created while they were at DC.

  13. "It's like the DC vs. Shazam thing but Shazam gets killed, canceled and the people working on the books get thrown in the street." Except that that's exactly what happened. The whole "Shazam" bit occurred because the "Captain Marvel" trademark was effectively abandoned during the eighteen years span beween that point and DC's licensing the character from Fawcett and reviving him.
    I wouldn't be surprised if Mattel ended up manufacturing Bratz in the end. There's big money to be made, andLord knows their various attempts at Bratz knock-offs haven't worked out for them.

  14. But...what about the girls who crave some sort of X-Men equivalent?

  15. Argh no. This is a horrible decision. Mattel wasn't using the idea, & Bratz has been around for years.

    Where do they get these judges?

  16. Our Prime Minister in Australia has been trying to ban them too!

    It's a completely ridiculous brand to be sure.

    There is also a fine line I guess as to what is acceptable, and it would be a double standard to judge these sorts of things. But I could almost objectively say that Bratz dolls are actually evil. Spider-man isn't. He teaches responsibility and harsh life lessons. Bratz...teaches little girls that dressing like a tramp and wearing make up to make boys like them is okay.

    Even the pets wear make up!!

    I'd like to think the Judge personally ruled in favour on the pretense that MGA entertainment were within rights to sell them, but he was just doing himself and other parents a favour.

    They shouldn't really be sold as a childrens toy. If they were an adult parody of Barbie...then it would almost be okay. key word here being ADULT.

  17. Well, I'm glad they're no longer going to be around, Hate their name and hate the way they look. The thought that little girls loved these dolls made me cringe. (They looked like prostitutes! What the heck gives people?)

    Hey! American Girls are NOT boring! Felicity snuck out of her home and stole a horse a night! She also secretly rang the bell that started the war! (or something like that) Oh yeah, and she had a cute teenage boy as her sidekick. XD

    Oh wait, we're talking about the dolls. Yeah, those are hella expensive. (but soooo much better than that Bratz trash.)

  18. The Bratz Dolls do have superhero aspects:
    DVDs: Bratz Super Babyz
    Books: Bratz Babyz Cinemanga, Bratz: Super Bratz

    Isn't Barbie and her paraphernalia just as pricey? Have you seen the temple at Toys R Us in Times Square?

    Besides, Tonner is way better.

  19. Shame on Barbie... what a bully. While I'm not a fan of the Bratz doll I do believe that what Mattel is doing is wrong. Yes they won their lawsuit but instead of removing the dolls completely they should take over the line and revamp it. Barbie by the way doesn't dress like a proper lady either. Before Bratz dolls came out there were just as many complaints about Barbie, the way she dressed, the way her body is disproportionate etc, etc, etc.
    At least with the Bratz dolls women won't be seeking out plastic surgery to make their heads 2 times too big for their bodies. Barbie has been creating self image problems for young women for many many years. I can think of two women that have had over 40 surgeries each to make themselves look like the doll. And some parents are worried what the comically inflated dolls will do to their daughters self image. Well I haven't heard of anyone seeking out plastic surgery to remake themselves into their favorite cartoon character and that's what these Bratz dolls remind me of, cartoon characters. I'll worry about my daughters self images when they ask me to get their heads blown up so they can look more like these dolls, until then I'm hitting the stores to buy up every doll I can get my hands on. I will tuck them away and see if the little plastic freak dolls will be worth something someday.

  20. Expensive no, too sexy no, ugly maybe but cutier than ugly. Barbie has always been sexy and superficial. She couldn't compete with the competition and now is crying. Tough. She is old and needs to die.
    What about her image, baby without a father. Unemployed, but many worldly possessions. Can we say sex worker, whore, tramp. Take your pick. Fight to the end Bratz girlz rule.

  21. Anonymous7:39 AM

    i really like bratz and so do my little cousions izzy and lizzy they are so cool and funky and they are made to look like teengers so thats really good i know there expensive but they come with alot of cool stuff they have to make a come back sometime!!

  22. Anonymous2:29 PM

    I love Bratz and I dont care what these bitches say!

  23. Anonymous8:57 AM

    I think both dolls can be. Barbie has her fans, bratz - her.
    As for me I like bratz