Shirt Shop Loses Ruling Over Bratz Dolls Design

      (CN) – A small airbrush T-shirt shop in California failed to convince the 9th Circuit that the maker of the popular Bratz dolls copied artwork from its “Spoiled Brats” custom shirts.

     The three-judge panel in Pasadena, Calif., said Art Attacks Ink lacked evidence that toymaker MGA Entertainment had access to copyrighted material, affirming a lower court’s judgment for MGA on copyright infringement and trade dress claims.
     Art Attacks’ Spoiled Bratz custom T-shirts feature “cartoonish, predominantly female characters with oversized eyes, disproportionately large heads and feet, makeup and bare midriffs,” the same features found in MGA’s Bratz dolls, according to the lawsuit.
     MGA started selling the dolls in 2001, and Art Attacks, who had been selling Spoiled Brats T-shirts at county fairs since 1993, claimed that an MGA must have seen the designs at a county fair.
     But there was no evidence, the appeals court ruled. Though Bratz mark designer Aileen Storer said she attended the Los Angeles County fair between 1995 and 2005, Art Attacks could not show that she stopped by its booth. Storer’s attendance does not prove more than a “bare possibility” of a chain of events linking Art Attacks designs to MGA, the ruling states.
The court found it similarly unlikely that MGA would have come across the shirts on the street, because Art Attacks sells only 2,000 Spoiled Brats T-shirts a year, falling far short of the “widely disseminated” trademark infringement requirement.
     Art Attacks tried to show that the marks created customer confusion, but its only witnesses were employees or friends of the company founder. The appellate panel dismissed the argument.

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