When the Mattel My Scene line came (same body as Barbie but with larger head and eyes - like Bratz), first blood was drawn. Bratz launched a case against Mattel. Mattel also initiated a case against MGA since the BRATZ doll was designed by a former Mattel employee, during his time with Mattel.
Initially, Mattel won, despite the statement by the designer that he was not employed by Mattel in 1998 and that the doll was developed during a period when he was self employed between two the jobs. Ultimately, the federal court in California decided that MGA had not stolen the doll from Mattel. MGA will get a compensation of over $ 88,000,000. Mattel will appeal against the verdict.
This case illustrates the importance of good and water-tight contracts with freelancers or self-employed workers. If changing employers within an X number of years was regulated in the designer’s contract all this may have been prevented.