Why Should Mattel Get Future Plans For New Bratz Dolls?

from the gross-injustice dept

Last year, we wrote about a somewhat horrific court ruling against MGA Entertainment, the makers of Bratz dolls, after getting sued by Mattel. If you don't follow the doll business, Bratz is really the first doll to successfully compete against the massively successful Barbie franchise in ages. However, the guy who came up with Bratz had worked at Mattel prior to going off on his own. Of course, this is the history of many different innovative companies. If you come up with a better idea while working at one company, it's a good thing that you can go off and build your own company. As we pointed out at the time, this is the story of plenty of successful tech companies. Steve Wozniak was at HP when he built the first Apple computer (and continued to work there for some time after Apple was moving forward). Robert Noyce helped found Fairchild (and later Intel) after growing frustrated at Shockley Transistor. Hell, William Shockley founded Shockley Transistor after feeling he didn't get enough respect at Bell Labs. Yet, here's a toy designer at Mattel who's entire operation is getting shut down because he came up with the idea while still employed at Mattel?

Even if you grant the somewhat troubling premise that the concept for the dolls was created at Mattel, at best you could make an argument that Mattel had some rights to an injunction and profits from the first generation of those dolls. Yet, the judge not only ruled that, but also that MGA had to give up all such dolls, and hand over all sorts of confidential info, including "all related products, designs, customer information and 'know-how' for a planned 2010 Bratz line." It's difficult to see any justification at all for forcing them to hand over future plans that had nothing to do with what the guy created while still at Mattel. MGA has now filed an emergency appeal, noting that if it does hand over such info and assets, it would have "devastating and irreversible consequences," which seems quite accurate. All in all, this seems like Mattel simply trying to stop competition, and it's a shame that the US court system seems to be helping.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    The Judge, 29 May 2009 @ 10:35am

    Re: Re: The Facts

    1) In your article you clearly state that the designer left Mattel to start his own business. I quote: "here's a toy designer at Mattel who's entire operation is getting shut down because he came up with the idea while still employed at Mattel". Well, if the designer doesn't own the company, how can it possibly be HIS OPERATION???? Additionally you state that: "However, the guy who came up with Bratz had worked at Mattel prior to going off on his own.", and, "If you come up with a better idea while working at one company, it's a good thing that you can go off and build your own company." Here again, you imply that he started his own business. On the other hand, you NEVER state the fact that instead of starting his own business, he simply sold it to a competitor without ever presenting it to his own employer (who paid him to design dolls). Again, your first statement is innacurate (it is NOT his operation) and the following two are misleading at best.

    2) After reviewing the evidences, the jury (not the judge) found that the dolls were indeed developed while the designer worked for Mattel, and therefore stating that "there is a dispute over how/when the dolls were developed." is inaccurate. This has already been determined by the jury.

    2) Again, future plans of the doll line based on the ORIGINAL designs that legally belong to Mattel per the contract the designer signed with Mattel. Products that don't resemble the original designs, are not included. Thus, stating that "future plans that had nothing to do with what the guy created while still at Mattel" is innacurate to the extent that such future plans are based on the very same designs created at Mattel.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer
Anonymous number for texting and calling from Hushed. $25 lifetime membership, use code TECHDIRT25
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.