LOS ANGELES (AP) -- MGA Entertainment Inc. filed an antitrust lawsuit against Mattel Inc., its archrival in the world of fashion dolls.
The case is the latest volley in an ongoing dispute over MGA's Bratz dolls. It was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and alleges unfair business practices and anticompetitive conduct.
MGA claims Mattel used a "scorched earth strategy" to infiltrate confidential showrooms at industry events to copy new Bratz products, rearrange Barbie and Bratz displays at retailers, intimidate licensees and pay retailers not to buy MGA products.
MGA claims Mattel uses litigation instead of competition to protect Barbie's monopoly over the fashion doll market and deprive consumers of choices.
The lawsuit also names Mattel CEO Robert Eckert, who it says "embraced the 'litigate MGA to death' strategy -- a whatever it takes process Mattel successfully employed to destroy the approximate $1 billion net worth of MGA, as well as the 'Kill Bratz' and 'Operation Cast Doubt on Bratz' battle plan to poison MGA in the marketplace."
The case opens a new front in the battle over the right to make and market Bratz dolls -- the sassy, street-wise line that flew off the shelves when it was introduced and gave Barbie a run for her money.
Two years ago, a federal jury awarded Mattel $100 million and found that Bratz designer Carter Bryant had developed the concept for the Bratz dolls while working for Mattel. An appeals court later overturned the verdict and the retrial is under way in Santa Ana.
Since Bratz dolls first hit shelves in 2001, Los Angeles-based MGA has sold $3.3 billion in related products, with $292 million in profits, according to Mattel. The doll also decreased Mattel's Barbie profits by $393 million.