Last summer, we covered a case in which a juror was removed for making slurs about Isaac Larian’s ethnicity, the Jewish, Iranian-born CEO of MGA, maker of Bratz, calling Iranians: “rude” and “thieves” who have “stolen other person’s [sic] ideas,” during a legal battle between Mattel and Barbie.
District Judge Stephen Larson chose to oversimplify the hate-filled remarks made during trial deliberations in 2008, and at the time, concluded (without any mention of himself): “Although the remarks offended and upset several of the jurors, the remarks did not, in any way, affect or influence the decision made by the jury.”
Despite the efforts of the Anti-Defamation League, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), the Iranian American Jewish Federation (IAJF), and the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA)–who all joined MGA and Larian in appealing the case with Mattel–Larson granted Mattel ownership of Bratz dolls.
“IABA joined in the amicus filing to the Ninth Circuit on the issue of juror bias against Mr. Larian, which went to the very issue being litigated—namely that all Iranians are ‘thieves’. Based on its potential impact on Iranian-Americans and their equal treatment under the law, this issue was of great importance to us as a Bar Association, and of course to our members.” IABA representative, Salman Elmi tells Persianesque Magazine.
The good news is that a federal appeals court has finally thrown out Larson’s initial and unpopular verdict.
“Although the Ninth Circuit did not specifically rule on the issue of juror bias,” adds Elmi. “By overturning the trial court’s decision, the Ninth Circuit opened the door for a brand new trial—with a new jury. I’m sure that Mr. Larian’s attorneys will certainly be more attuned and sensitive to the issue of juror bias in the upcoming jury selection, if/when it materializes.”
However, the doll monopoly dream doesn’t seem to be over for Mattel who is said to be considering a “full trial” in order to bring their claims against MGA Entertainment Inc. forward.
As the photo of a few Bratz dolls above shows, the highly-coveted-amongst-young-girls and imagination-friendly toys do not resemble Mattel’s longtime Barbie dolls: Neither aesthetically nor in demeanor; visibly there’s a certain multi-cultural/diverse feel to the Bratz dolls that Barbie has never been able to fully grasp or create.
For example: Bratz doll, Yasmin, aka the Pretty Princess, is pitched as a “talented writer” who notes her favorite food types as: ”Thai, Mediterranean, and anything ethnic!”
Sound like Barbie?
We didn’t think so.
So, we’re just not sure why Mattel would waste their time in court, fighting a solid contender in the field, as opposed to embracing competition and perhaps hiring some new leaders to make sure the company continues to create. (And not hate.)
In the end, did justice prevail?
“It is difficult to ascertain at this point because in essence the Ninth Circuit has vacated a significant portion of the district court’s jury verdict and damage awards, and hints that a re-trial at the district level may be necessary,” says Elmi.