Lady Gaga Stars In Her Very Own ‘Bad Romance’: Sued by Maker of Bratz Over Soured Doll Deal

by Mike Mintz on August 1, 2012 · 0 comments

in Contract Law,

Lady Gaga might be singing the blues these days. She, along with her management company, have been sued by MGA Entertainment, the manufacturer of the popular Bratz toys. The reason for the lawsuit? MGA claims that Lady Gaga failed to approve a line of dolls made in her image.  The lawsuit is entitled MGA Entertainment Inc. v. Bravado International Group Merchandising Services Inc., 652547/2012, New York State Supreme Court.

MGA, a California corporation, is suing the mega-hit pop star in New York state court and is seeking upwards of $10 million in damages.  They are also suing a California based merchandising company that works with musicians-Bravado.

MGA entered into the agreement with Lady Gaga in December 2011 at Bravado’s request and indeed, “insistence”. MGA paid the merchandiser a $1 million dollar fee in return for the shipment of the line of dolls to retailers this summer, in time for the holiday shopping season.  The dolls, which were made in her likeness and feature her outrageous costumes, were designed to play snippets of Lady Gaga’s songs.

About five months after the agreement was reached, Bravado’s CEO informed MGA that Lady Gaga a/k/a Stefani Germanotta wanted to postpone the production and shipping of the dolls until her new album was released in 2013.  According to MGA, the defendants continue to withhold final approval of the doll order until 2013 and instead have focused on selling a licensed Lady Gaga perfume called “Fame”.  No word yet on what the perfume smells like. Black studded leather perhaps?

According to MGA, Bravado also tried to back out of the deal when it learned that the doll would feature the sound chip that would play parts of the star’s hits.

In addition to the $1,ooo,ooo advance fee, MGA agreed to a very generous royalty rate with the defendants. MGA claims to have invested millions of dollars on pre-production of the Lady Gaga dolls and that it put its reputation and goodwill at stake in order to secure retail shelf space.

According to Lady Gaga’s representative, the presiding New York State judge recently declined MGA’s request for an order requiring the defendants to immediately approve the samples of the doll that were submitted to them for review.

Lady Gaga has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. It is not scheduled to be heard until the end of August.

According to the pop star’s representative, there was no need to drag Lady Gaga into the lawsuit.  The dispute is merely between the merchandising company belonging to Universal Music Group and MGA.

Bravado has, for its part, rejected all of MGA’s claims and asserts that it will defend itself in a court of law against plaintiff’s claims.  Lady Gaga’s management company has so far not commented on the lawsuit.

MGA estimated that the line of Lady Gaga dolls would yield $28 million in revenue in the Fall 2012 retail season.  Plaintiff had agreements in place with six distributors and orders from at least ten countries for the dolls.

According to MGA, Lady Gaga’s reps were initially thrilled with the doll samples, although they asked for a few minor alterations, including sexier-looking lips and eyes.  They also requested that the doll’s head be removable to reveal a bloody stump-in line with her morbid/goth image.

In another lawsuit just last year, MGA won a whopping $310 million award from toy maker Mattel in a trial centering around the ownership rights of the popular Bratz line of dolls.  Mattel has since appealed that judgment and is awaiting the appellate court’s decision.

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