The Bratz fashion dolls are turning 10, and MGA Entertainment Inc. is celebrating with an updated line of the toys that Mattel owns pending appeal.
MGA announced Thursday that the new Bratz dolls are set to hit store shelves in August, and will feature a fresh look with updated faces, bodies and fashions. The Van Nuys toymaker will be debuting 10 new Bratz characters as part of the anniversary line.
“We are proud to be celebrating 10 years of success with Bratz, our No. 1 girls’ lifestyle brand,” MGA Chief Executive Isaac Larian said in a statement. “We will continue the celebration with a mix of new products not only in this milestone year, but well into the next decade and beyond.”
MGA’s announcement is surprising in the context of its the legal battle between the company and rival Mattel Inc. over the Bratz line.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to issue a ruling in the long-running fight, which resulted in a 2008 decision by a federal jury in Riverside to grant Mattel control of the Bratz line and $100 million in damages. As a result of the verdict, then-U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Larson assigned the Bratz ownership to Mattel, issued an injunction barring MGA from further making Bratz dolls, and ordered MGA to remove all Bratz products from store shelves by Jan. 21.
MGA appealed Larson’s rulings, and in December the appeals court ruled that MGA could continue to sell the pouty-lipped Bratz that are currently in the marketplace until the court makes a final decision in the case. The appellate judges voiced their skepticism of the original decision, and called the order transferring ownership of the Bratz trademark and copyright from MGA to Mattel “drastic.” The appellate judges also ordered Mattel and MGA to mediation.
Industry observers have said that the court’s decision to allow MGA to continue selling Bratz dolls has created confusion in the marketplace. Barbie maker Mattel had started to manufacture its own line of Bratz dolls, which Mattel Chief Executive Bob Eckert called “a great line of dolls” in a January conference call with analysts. But Mattel’s plans have been placed on hold because of the appeals court ruling, and the El Segundo toymaker has been participating in mediation proceedings with MGA.
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