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Judge: Bratz dolls can be sold through 2009

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the pouty-lipped Bratz dolls may remain on store shelves through this year, but he left open the possibility that the toys' sales could be shifted from MGA Entertainment Inc. to Mattel Inc. or a court-appointed receiver.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the pouty-lipped Bratz dolls may remain on store shelves through this year, but he left open the possibility that the toys' sales could be shifted from MGA Entertainment Inc. to Mattel Inc. or a court-appointed receiver.

The order, filed in U.S. District Court, is a reprieve for Bratz maker MGA, which had been ordered late last year to stop making and selling the dolls.

Mattel sued MGA over Bratz in 2004 and a federal jury found last year that Bratz designer Carter Bryant developed the doll concept while working for Mattel. The same jury later awarded Mattel $10 million for copyright infringement and $90 million for breach of contract.

After the verdict, Mattel sought to block MGA from making the Bratz dolls, and Judge Stephen Larson ordered the company in December to end its sales and destroy all its current product after the holiday season.

But MGA sought to stay that order while it appeals. Larson previously said he didn't want retailers to suffer from uncertainty during what promises to be another lengthy legal battle.

Larson's ruling, however, leaves open the possibility that Mattel or a court-appointed receiver may ultimately market the dolls this year. Attorneys will argue that issue at a Feb. 11 hearing.

"This stay gives assurance to our retailers and licensees that business is back to normal with Bratz for 2009, and that all Bratz products may continue to be sold throughout the calendar year," said MGA Chief Executive Isaac Larian.

Mattel said in a statement that it was pleased the ruling "leaves open for later decision whether it will be Mattel, MGA or a court-appointed receiver that will be providing Bratz products during the 2009 time frame."

Larson also appointed a forensic auditor to examine the finances of Los Angeles-based MGA and tentatively assigned the cost of the audit to Mattel.