A federal judge issued an order late Wednesday allowing MGA Entertainment Inc. to continue to manufacture and sell the popular Bratz doll line at least through the end of 2009 retail season.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson said "retailers and distributors will be permitted to purchase the Spring and Fall 2009 lines of Bratz and Bratz-related products from MGA and MGA licensees."
Larson last month imposed a permanent injunction on MGA after a jury found that the Bratz line infringed on Mattel patents. A delay in enforcing the ban is a partial victory for MGA, which originally asked the Riverside judge to postpone enforcing the injunction until the Van Nuy's doll maker could appeal to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which could take some time to prepare.
Failing that, MGA asked Larson to at least give retailers some certainty that the dolls would be available this year.
Larson's order follows a Monday closed-door hearing where attorneys for MGA and Mattel Inc. discussed whether the Van Nuys toymaker should be allowed to continue to make and sell the trendy fashion dolls. The original injunction ordered MGA to turn over to El Segundo-based Mattel all Bratz inventory and related manufacturing and marketing materials.
Also Wednesday, Larson appointed a forensic auditor to review the finances both of MGA and Chief Executive Issac Larian. Mattel attorneys had called for appointment of a receiver, arguing MGA might be so fiscally unhealthy that it could not preserve the Bratz intellectual property. MGA attorney said having a receiver at this time unnecessary.
"Mattel is pleased the court's order confirms that the injunction, when final, will not bar retailers from selling Bratz products in 2009, and leaves open for later decision whether it will be Mattel, MGA or a Court-appointed receiver that will be providing Bratz products during the 2009 time frame," said Mattel attorney Michael Zeller said in a statement.
A spokesperson for MGA did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
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