Doll fight

Moxie Girlz is the first fashion doll line MGA is launching since its legal tussle with Mattel over the saucy Bratz fashion dolls began five years ago.

The litigation over Bratz resulted in a U.S. District Court Judge ordering MGA to stop selling the dolls at the end of the 2009 holiday season. At that point, MGA has to hand over portions of the Bratz intellectual property that will help Mattel prepare its own Bratz line for the spring 2010 sales season.

MGA is appealing the order, which federal Judge Stephen Larson issued after a jury decided last year that a former Mattel doll designer created the Bratz name and characters for MGA while working for Mattel. As a result of the litigation, control of the Bratz line was awarded to Mattel in addition to a $100 million damages award against MGA.

Mattel declined to comment on whether it plans to take legal action alleging that Moxie Girlz infringes on the Bratz line that it currently owns.

MGA also declined to comment for this article.

Industry experts said the success of Moxie Girlz is vital to MGA.

“MGA doesn’t have any other hits or larger lines, so this is quite crucial to them,” said Jim Silver, a toy industry analyst and editor in chief of online publication Time to Play. “MGA needs to replace a large column of Bratz. It was doing hundreds of millions of dollars and, if you take away Little Tikes, it counted for the bulk of sales.”

MGA puts out several other products, including Little Tikes, Baby Born and Rescue Pets. But industry insiders said Bratz was by far MGA’s best seller, having peaked in 2005 with an estimated $750 million in sales. Bratz’s popularity has waned, however, with sales slipping below $200 million this year, which, according to analysts, is a dismal retail season. Another factor in the decline of Bratz has been increased competition, with Hannah Montana and other fresh toy phenomena taking the stage.

Fierce competition

Bratz hit the toy scene in 2001, and quickly became a force on the fashion doll landscape, taking market share away from Mattel’s famous Barbie. Although the miniskirted, big-lipped Bratz concerned some parents, young girls were attracted to the hip-hop-inspired dolls and their multiethnic look. As a result, the Bratz line became widely popular and a host of competitors began launching comparably provocative doll lines.

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