Sunday, March 04, 2012, 3/04/2012 11:30:00 AM

Mattel v. MGA – Nice Bratz Summary


If we wanted to, this blog could be all Bratz, all the time. We’ve covered it a lot (see here, here, and here).

But we don’t want to do all Bratz, so it’s good to have a nice summary from USA Today, a paper not known for its trade secrets coverage.

The occasion is the filing of Mattel’s brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Mattel is appealing the $310 million judgment against it resulting from MGA’s counterclaim.

For those for whom this is new: Mattel is a toy maker, mostly known for Barbie, the best-selling doll of all time. MGA, a competitor, put out a new line of dolls – Bratz – starting in 2001. By 2006, Bratz were selling to the tune of nearly $1 billion annually and giving Barbie a run for her money.

Mattel sued first, in 2004, claiming that the Bratz designer first came up with the idea while working for Mattel and that MGA, therefore, infringed on Bratz’s copyright. A federal jury found to that effect in 2008, awarding Mattel $100 million, later overturned on appeal.

Back in the trial court for a second go-round, MGA filed counterclaims asserting that Mattel stole its trade secrets when it sent spies to toy fairs and trade shows.

In the second trial, the jury found no copyright violation, but awarded MGA $85 million in damages on its trade secrets claim. The trial judge added $85 million in punitive damages and tacked on $137 million in legal fees.

That’s what’s now on appeal.

In the appeal, Mattel is now abandoning its copyright claim and claiming that MGA’s trade secrets case was filed too late. Mattel is also challenging the attorneys’ fees award (and if you think about it, how can a case cost $137 million?).

We’ll keep you apprised without letting this one case take over our whole blog.

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