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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New York Series: Barbie Celebrating in Style

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 17, 2009

It’s not secret that Barbie has had her challenges in her 50 year history, from promoting ridiculous body image, to the more recent market share battle with Bratz.

But on her 50th birthday I saw one of the coolest promotions I had seen in some time. Bloomingdales New York. It has the entire history of Barbie on display. Nearly every doll ever made in uber cool glass cases, right through the entire ladies clothing floors. It cannot be missed. and demands attention. In addition they have some life size barbies who have been dressed by leading fashion designers. Here’s a photo essay, and some important comments about it below:

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If we are in the fashion business (which more of us are than we think) then we must constantly be re-inventing, and reminding our people why we are the coolest.

How does your startup show how cool it is?

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