Ubisoft smacks Bratz for $13 million

Publisher wins arbitration judgment against toy maker in dispute over girls' gaming license.

SIDEBAR: While fighting over dolls might seem unbecoming for one of the world's largest third-party game publishers, a $13 million payoff can do wonders to stir people to action. Business and entertainment law firm Greenberg Glusker today announced that it has secured a $13.2 million judgment in favor of its client, French publisher Ubisoft, in a licensing dispute with MGA Entertainment, maker of the popular Bratz line of toys.

Ubisoft published Bratz games for the original PlayStation and Game Boy Advance in 2003, but MGA terminated the license that year and moved it to THQ. According to Greenberg Glusker, MGA dropped the Ubisoft deal without good cause in an attempt to renegotiate a more favorable deal. The two companies wound up suing each other, and an arbitrator sided with the game publisher to the tune of $13.2 million.

Legal battles aside, the Bratz license's best days may be behind it. THQ's 2006 effort Bratz: Forever Diamondz and 2005's Bratz: Rock Angelz each sold more than 700,000 copies at US retailers, according to the NPD Group. However, of the 2007 slate of games--Bratz: 4 Real, Bratz: The Movie, and Bratz: Ponyz--none has surpassed the 100,000 mark.

The toy license is having problems in other media as well. After being released in theaters last August, the critically reviled live-action Bratz movie failed to break $10 million at the US box office over the course of its mercifully short run.

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