MGA Entertainment, maker of the popular line of Bratz dolls, recently escaped unscathed from a copyright infringement lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed by Bernard Belair, a photographer whose advertisements for Steve Madden, featuring large-headed, small-bodied characters, first appeared in August 1999. MGA conceded one of Belair’s advertisements was used in an inspiration packet for the Bratz doll design, and the ad was one of several pieces Bratz sculptor Margaret Leahy used in her initial sculpt for the doll’s body.
While the court decided that MGA was attempting to capitalize on the popular images created by Belair, the court ruled that copying the disproportionate features alone could not be considered a copyright infringement, and agreed that the doll and advertisement figures had several differences.
This was the second copyright infringement suit for MGA this year. Barbie creator Mattel's allegations against MGA were rejected in April 2011. Mattel contended Bratz designer Carter Bryant was providing trade secrets to MGA while still working at Mattel.