MGA files antitrust suit against Mattel [Updated]
In the latest dispute between the bitter toy rivals, MGA Entertainment Inc. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Mattel Inc. in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles claiming unfair business practices and anticompetitive conduct.
In Thursday's filing, the company alleges that Mattel tried to freeze out MGA's Bratz fashion dolls after they began crippling sales of Barbie. MGA alleges that Mattel infiltrated its showrooms, rearranged Barbie and Bratz retail displays, intimidated and threatened licensees and paid retailers not to buy Bratz or MGA products.
"The purpose of Mattel's anticompetitive conduct, specifically monopolizing and attempting to monoplize the fashion doll market, was to eliminate or suppress the competition, mainly MGA, and effectively deprive fashion doll purchasers of the choice of buying from a Mattel competitor, including MGA. Accordingly, Mattel's conduct has served to reinforce its fashion doll monopoly, and to impair the ability of MGA and others to compete in the relevant fashion doll market. Consumers are effectively deprived of choice and price competition."
Separately, a retrial is underway in federal court in Santa Ana in the copyright infringement suit between the two companies over who owns the rights to the pouty-lipped, big-headed multiethnic dolls. Mattel alleges that MGA infringed on its copyrights and stole trade secrets after Bratz creator and former Barbie designer Carter Bryant took the idea for the Bratz dolls to MGA after he quit Mattel.
[Updated at 11:15 p.m.: In a statement late Thursday, Mattel lawyer Mike Zeller said: "These same arguments have been repeatedly rejected as irresponsible by the Court. This is nothing more than an end run against these prior decisions."]
-- Andrea Chang