Barbie wins catfight with Bratz

In a battle between Barbie and the Bratz gang of dolls, the long-legged blonde might not seem a match for the street attitude of her upstart rivals, but last night she won the biggest catfight in toyland.

Barbie's maker, Mattel, won a court case against MGA Entertainment, the manufacturer of the Bratz, in which hundreds of millions of dollars of past and future revenues are at stake.

A nine-member federal jury in California found that the creator of the multi-ethnic Bratz gang, 39-year-old Carter Bryant, created their characters and the name while he was under contract as a Barbie designer at Mattel.

The court heard how, in the pursuit of truth, Mattel sought forensic analysis of the earliest sketches of the Bratz and at one point put a private detective on to one of its own executives suspected of being in cahoots with MGA. The decision put Mattel in a commanding position going into the damages phase of the trial, which begins on 23 July.

The jury also found that MGA's chief executive, Isaac Larian, had interfered with Mattel's contractual relationship with Bryant and that both he and his company were liable for "conversion", the term used for industrial theft.