Friday, August 05, 2011, 8/05/2011 06:42:00 AM

Federal Judge In California Decides Mattel Should Pay $310 Million to MGA in Bratz Matter

By Todd

Law360 is reporting that United States District Court Judge David O. Carter reduced a jury's $88.5 million damages award to $85 million because of a duplication error, then tacked on another $85 million in exemplary damages, and granted MGA's request for an additional $139.9 million for attorneys' fees and costs.

Mattel's copyright suit "imperiled free expression, competition and the only serious competitor Mattel had faced in the fashion doll market in nearly 50 years," Judge Carter said in an order on Thursday. "MGA's successful defense ensured that well-resourced plaintiffs cannot bend the law to suit their pecuniary interests." In April, a jury found that Mattel had misappropriated trade secrets for the Bratz dolls, reversing a previous verdict that gave Mattel $100 million in damages and enjoined MGA from selling the Bratz dolls.

The case hinged on whether toy designer Carter Bryant came up with Bratz while working at Mattel and subsequently brought the idea to MGA, or if he struck upon the idea for the dolls in 1998 before he signed a contract with Mattel. Mattel and MGA began their second trial in the seven-year saga on Jan. 18, after the Ninth Circuit vacated a jury verdict awarding Mattel $100 million and control of the Bratz line.

Mattel had also moved for a new trial, arguing that the jury's original $88.5 million verdict in April lacked evidentiary support, but Judge Carter denied the motion, saying "Mattel similarly failed to introduce specific evidence of harm for each of its claimed trade secrets and, in an earlier phase of this lawsuit, successfully defended a similarly imprecise jury award."Mattel had maintained that Bryant perpetrated one of the biggest-ever copyright and trade secret heists when he took Bratz to MGA, eventually launching the wildly successful line of dolls. The alleged theft robbed Mattel of $300 million in profits and allowed MGA to capitalize on proprietary information, according to Mattel.

MGA, on the other hand, argued that Mattel was throwing its weight around, pursuing litigation as a way to crush competitors and usurp creations that MGA spent vast amounts of time and money developing.

This is a massive attorneys' fee award of $140 million. We are going to research this but believe it is the largest fee award ever in a case of this type. We do not doubt a massive appeal is in the works.


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