Well, it's settled. Barbie just got her ass kicked by the sassy, funky new girls on America's cutthroat child-consumer scene.
OK, not Barbie herself. Worse — the suits who pull her strings.
Mattel sued Bratz maker MGA a few years back because it claimed the man who brainstormed the mean-girls franchise, Carter Bryant, had done so while he worked at Mattel. (Guess Barbie just wasn't enough for the reigning toy kings. Doe eyes not quite gargantuan enough? Or perhaps not equipped with sufficient purply eyeshadow.)
Today's court ruling —
that Van Nuys underdog MGA officially owns the rights to Bratz — overturns a $100 million decision in 2008 that Barbie (er, Mattel) was her true owner, the Los Angeles Times reports.
But Bratz isn't one to quit while she's down. An appeals-court judge made the pretty obvious observation that bratty dolls shouldn't be a monopoly, and the case was moved from Riverside to Orange County — where juries are apparently more apt to admire a free-spirited biotch for her small-town origins.
The story goes that Bryant had his light-bulb moment while driving past a high school in western Missouri. He was working at Old Navy while in between stints at Mattel. So, though the idea only came to fruition once he pitched it to MGA, Mattel still felt that the genius was born on its own watch.
For MGA CEO Isaac Larian, Bratz' survival as an independent woman, free of Barbie's bullyish grabs, is so much more than a doll fight:
As the 28-page, 23-question verdict form was read Thursday, family members of [Larian], seated in the front row, including his wife, daughter and two sons, embraced one another, smiled and let out sighs of relief. …
The Iranian immigrant openly wept as the verdict was read.
“The American dream lives,” he said. “This is a victory for all entrepreneurs, immigrants who came here. They cannot be bullied. It's been an emotional battle. I feel vindicated.”
Barbie's sheepish response:
On Mattel's side, lawyers seated in the audience looked shocked. Chief Executive Bob Eckert leaned back in his chair and rubbed his forehead with his hand.
MGA gets at least $88 million today — and that number could triple, according to the Times. Still: “Mattel killed the Bratz brand,” [Larian] said. “It will never be the same level it was before.”
Come on, babe. Have some heart. No one rocks high-heeled gym shoes like Passion for Fashion (TM) Jade. The future dress-code delinquents of America's public-education system need you now.