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Lady Gaga’s Bratz dolls, with removable heads, in legal limbo

Lady Gaga performing in 2011. Development of a Gaga-based action figure has hit a legal snag.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The following are some of the Lady Gaga-branded items available for purchase in her official Web store: a USB drive, headphones, tote bags, stickable “body beadz,” Christmas cards, sunglasses, temporary tattoos and Bluetooth sets. Noticeably lacking? Action figures.

Now, efforts to develop a new Gaga action figure have hit a serious snag.

Multiple outlets have reported that MGA Entertainment, the company behind the popular, snotty Bratz doll toy line, has filed a $10-million lawsuit against the pop star. The Associated Press reported that MGA is alleging that Lady Gaga and those in her team have “sabotaged a deal” to craft a Gaga-inspired doll, one that would play snippets of her music.

Ultimately, the dispute seems to be over timing. MGA, it appears, wanted the dolls out in 2012, whereas Gaga’s merchandising arm, the Universal Music Group-owned Bravado, attempted to delay the Bratz dolls until the release of Gaga’s new album in 2013, according to reports. The Associated Press writes that MGA “claimed the singer’s representatives ultimately stopped cooperating with the project,” jeopardizing an estimated $28 million in revenue.

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In a statement passed along to Pop & Hiss, Gaga’s spokeswoman, Amanda Silverman, noted that “this is a dispute between Universal Music Group’s merchandising company and MGA. There was no legitimate reason for MGA to drag Lady Gaga into that dispute.”

She added that “MGA today asked the judge to immediately require Lady Gaga to approve dolls which MGA wants to manufacture and distribute. Lady Gaga is pleased that the court refused to do so.”

Further legal proceedings on the matter are now scheduled for Aug. 29. “Lady Gaga will at that time ask the court to formally dismiss MGA’s ill-conceived lawsuit and is confident that she will prevail,” her spokeswoman said.

A publicist for Universal Music Group and Bravado told Pop & Hiss the claims were meritless and would be met by a vigorous defense in court.

These were to be no ordinary Bratz dolls. Court documents obtained by the Times include an email from Bobby Campbell, an executive at Gaga’s management company, Atom Factory, saying “she loves them and we only need to make a few tweaks as we get into sculpting.”

The tweaks? “Think a prettier version of [Lady] Gaga,” says the Campbell email. And removable heads. “We would like to see options with and without a bloody stump for comparison.”

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