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New Challenge to Billion-Dollar Bratz Dolls

(CN) - The man who designed Bratz dolls admitted he copied the design from a shoe advertisement, the artist who drew the Steve Madden shoe ads claims in Manhattan Federal Court. Bernard Belair claims he designed the dolls with "disproportionally large head, small torso, long legs and very large feet" that Mattel and MGA Entertainment parlayed into a billion-dollar success.

In May 2008, Mattel sued Bratz owner MGA Entertainment for copyright infringement, claiming doll designer Carter Bryant had come up with the Bratz characters when he was working for Mattel as a Barbie designer, then took the designs to competitor MGA.

Mattel won $100 million, an order directing MGA to transfer all Bratz-related assets to Mattel by February 2010 and a permanent injunction stopping MGA from selling the dolls.

Belair claims that while testifying in that litigation in Los Angeles Federal Court, Bryant testified that he came up with the idea that became the Bratz dolls after seeing Steve Madden shoe ads in Seventeen Magazine.

Now Belair has sued MGA and Mattel in Federal Court, claiming he drew those Steve Madden ads, featuring dolls with the same "disproportionally large head, small torso, long legs and very large feet" that Bratz dolls have.

Belair says his dolls also share "character, fashion styling and posture" with Bratz dolls.

Belair says neither MGA nor Mattel asked his permission to use his doll design.

He seeks MGA's and Mattel's profits from the Bratz line.

He is represented by Gerard Haddad and Jennifer BianRosa with Dickstein Shapiro.

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