When is $100 million dollars chump change?
When the plaintiffs in a lawsuit were hoping to be awarded $2 billion dollars in damages.
Things have not been going well for our girl Barbie. Ever since the Bratz came to town sales have been plummeting.
Barbie has been losing market share since Bratz came on the market.
Mattel's three-monthly results, released on Friday, showed a further fall.
<Barbie's worldwide gross sales fell 6% between April and June 2008 as the company's net profit fell 48% to $11.8m.
Barbie sales in the US were down 21%.
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Until news of the lawsuit broke, I had never heard about The Bratz. I knew nothing of Cloe aka Angel,Jade aka Kool Kat, Sasha aka BunnyBoo,Yasmin aka Pretty Princess and Roxxi aka Spice.I knew nothing about how successful they were.
In June 1, 2001, the first four Bratz dolls, Yasmin, Cloe, Jade, and Sasha were released to market, each attired in urban-styled fashions. The Bratz quickly gained strong popularity, becoming the number one doll brand in several countries like France, Spain, Israel and Italy, and the number two doll in the United Kingdom.
Barbie I know well. While some of my friends opted to ban Barbie from their homes --those boobs--that waist--that Ken, I was never concerned that my daughter's self image would be influenced by the doll we bought at Target.
I was eight years old when Barbie debuted. I never owned one. I never wanted one. I was not the ind of girl who enjoyed playing with dolls and if any of my friends had one, I have conveniently erased that from my memory.
Even still, I'm feeling Barbie's pain.She is going to be 50 next year. It can be a tough birthday. And, it looks like Barbie's reign as the doll of the ball is coming to a painful end.
While many attempts have been made to “multi-culturalize” Barbie dolls, for all intents and purposes, the popular image of Barbie comes in one color: White. Caucasian. I have news for Mattel. The latest estimates put non-Hispanic Caucasians at a minority of the US population by 2042. By contrast, Bratz launchedlooks like her. That’s a pretty powerful emotional hook, and a key to the success of the Bratz line.
It is pretty clear: Mattel got caught sleeping. And that’s not too surprising; with a 50-year undisputed queen of dolls in the product line, why would you listen to an upstart designer with a gritty, multi-ethnic, urban concept?
But as it happens so many times in the marketplace, the sleeping giant was caught off guard. In less than a decade, Barbie has been made largely irrelevant - old, stodgy, and completely repositioned out of the top spot.
That brings us to the lawsuit.
After a three-month trial, a federal court in California ruled that Mattel-- the makers of Barbie-- were entitled to damages upward of $100 million from MGA entertainment --makers of The Bratz.
The trial was about a copyright infringement. The courts found that the creator of The Bratz--Carter Bryant was actually employed by Mattel at the time he "sold" the idea of The Bratz to MGA.
The courts also found that MGA was not aware of that situation.
# Until Mattel filed its lawsuit against Carter Bryant in April 2004, Isaac Larian and MGA believed that Carter Bryant had left Mattel on October 4, 2000, as instructed by Mr. Larian. Mr. Larian and MGA were not aware that Mr. Bryant was working at Mattel and for MGA from October 4 to October 19, 2000, and getting paid from both companies for those two weeks.
It's the kind of lawsuit that is allowing both sides to claim victory. MGA promises to appeal the ruling and Mattel promises to file for an injunction to stop production of Bratz dolls.
"The jury found that at some point the dolls infringed, but the question is, was it the earlier dolls or the later dolls or all of them?" said Oren Warshavsky, an intellectual property attorney who has followed the case closely. "Without a special verdict form, it's difficult to see how an injunction would be styled."
Gillian Flauccus, Associated Press
If you could advise Mattel, what would you tell them about Barbie? Is there a way for her to age gracefully? Or will she become the Norma Desmond of the doll world.
Elana blogs about business culture at FunnyBusiness
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