Following a seven-wekk trial, a jury found that MGA and a former designer for Mattel had taken the Bratz doll from a design made whilst the designer was under contract for Mattel.Â Using forensic evidence to date the designer’s notebook and letting the jury know that the designer had used “Evidence Eliminator” to sweep his hard drive clean of any Bratz references, Mattel won over the jury. The damages phase will begin shortly, but CEO Bob Eckert described the Mattel victory aptly as one for “all who believe in fair play.”Â If Bratz was truly a competitor’s design and it took a chunk of Barbie’s market share, more power to them.Â But, as the jury found, the design was born at Mattel as the designer enjoyed compensation from Mattel.Â His duty and design belonged to Mattel.
The Bratz dolls have racked up $1 billion in sales since their debut.Â The design, which the jury found came from a Mattel Barbie designer, is a Barbie-like doll with an edgier look.Â
The battle was long andÂ the stories were disparate, but, in the end, the jury found its way to consistency and truth.Â The verdict is a classic example of what ethics is all about — we know it when we see it.Â We hear the story and have the gut reaction of, “It ain’t right.”Â If you take the king’s gold . . . .
Full disclosure: I have done some work for Mattel over the years.Â