Barbie caught in the battle of the dolls

With legs weirdly long and lips oddly bloated, the spindly figures at the heart of a legal row are in the dock tomorrow

As a trade dispute between former colleagues, coming to a compromise could have been child's play. But with $100m (£61m) at stake, the battle between Barbie and her younger rival, Bratz, has been long and bitter. Six years after it started, the squabbling is finally set to end.

Jurors will assemble in a California courtroom tomorrow to begin deliberations over whether the Bratz designer Carter Bryant developed the concept for the billion-dollar doll line while under contract as a Barbie designer at Mattel.

The copyright infringement and trade secrets trial brings to an end the longest legal battle of its kind, between Mattel and the developer of Bratz, MGA Entertainment. Mattel was awarded damages of $100m in 2008, but the jury's decision was later overturned. Mattel claims that MGA Entertainment conspired with Mr Bryant to steal the idea for the dolls while he worked for the company.

Barbie was launched in 1959 by the American businesswoman Ruth Handler. Mattel estimates that there are now over 100,000 Barbie collectors. The doll has faced widespread criticism for promoting an unrealistic body image to girls.

The hip-hop inspired urban Bratz dolls with their crazy hair styles and provocative outfits were launched in 2001, targeting the 'tween generation and knocking Barbie off her 50-year throne. In three years, Bratz were outselling Barbie in the UK.

Then came the legal cat fight. In 2008, a jury ruled that MGA Entertainment was liable for "conversion", a term for industrial theft. Alex Kozinski, the Appeals Court judge who overturned the decision, wrote: "Unlike the relatively demure Barbie, the urban, multi-ethnic and trendy Bratz dolls have attitude. America thrives on competition; Barbie will too."

But in court on Friday, Mattel's attorney Bill Price told jurors: "The case really is about building a brand by using another company's confidential information and ideas, and that's wrong."

MGA Entertainment's attorney denied the allegations. The Bratz maker has countersued Mattel for damages.

Jennifer Keller, who represents the firm, describes Mattel as a ruthless corporation bent on destroying anyone who threatens Barbie's dominance. "This case is about how the world's biggest toy company tried to crush the only competitor against Barbie," said Ms Keller.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'