Start Up Blog

Bratz dolls & stealing ideas

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 25, 2010

It was recently decided in an appeal court that success of the Bratz dolls brand is not based on the idea. It’s my favourite court ruling in a long time. In April 2009, a federal judge upheld the $100 million jury verdict that essentially gave Mattel ownership of the billion dollar plus Bratz brand. Which basically gave Mattel the rights to most of MGA’s Bratz products. A jury in the case found that the designer who created the dolls was working at Mattel when he conceived of the idea and the name and made the initial drawings for the pouty and multi ethnic girls.

But this decision got over ruled a few a days ago by a unanimous panel of the ninth circuit.


“It is not equitable to transfer this billion-dollar brand, the value of which is overwhelmingly the result of MGA’s legitimate efforts, because it may have started with two misappropriated names,” the appellate panel said in its ruling today.

“It is not equitable to transfer this billion-dollar brand, the value of which is overwhelmingly the result of MGA’s legitimate efforts, because it may have started with two misappropriated names,” the appellate panel said in its ruling today.

The great thing about this decision is that it reconginizes where true brand value comes from, everything ‘but’ the idea. As I’ve always said on Startup blog ideas are near worthless when it comes to building brand equity. Rather it’s the rich combination of design, building supply chains, inventing demand, effective distribution and the constant iteration of these factors. It should not only be a lesson for entrepreneurs, but large lazy corporates who try and beat their more nimble and innovative competition in the courts.

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3 Responses

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  1. startvids said, on July 26, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Not sure I follow you. How come you are pleased with the court’s decision? it’s a clear violation of the guy’s rights… he’s been working at Mattel so everything is owned by them? that’s great for legal talk bull crap, but that’s obviously very hard to enforce in real life. the fact that they have succeeded is very rare, and very annoying. Luck, and nothing but damn luck-good for them, bad for him. so what if ideas aren’t the core of an entrepreneurial POV? it’s still a good thing to have them-and you treat them like they are not important. they and ambition are the core triggers of this industry.

    • Steve Sammartino said, on July 26, 2010 at 11:08 am

      It sounds very much like you haven’t read this blog entry closely. I am please that Mattel are not given the ownership of Bratz based on only the idea. I said that it is great that his idea, is still his and that Mattel can’t own his brain just because he worked there…

      The point I am making is that the rightful owner of the brand is the person who built it…. all the hard stuff beyond the idea. Sure we need an idea to get started, but in reality it is a very small part of any successful venture.

      MGA succeeded here not Mattel. I am in strong support for the Bratz brand founders.
      Steve.

  2. Paul Woods said, on July 28, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Execution FTW!


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