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Fashion Law: MGA’s Bratz Says “Don’t Get It Twisted” with $88Million Win Against Barbie, Ouch!

In Fashion Law by FASHIONENTLAW™

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Duck for cover people. It’s legal war zones and we take no prisoners while we are at it, at least if you are MGA Inc., the owners of Bratz. Remember I covered this case when I followed up with law student and blogger Fame Appeal’s question on why Barbie had not sued Nicki Minaj for Trademark infringement of Barbie? I addressed the MGA Bratz v. Mattel Barbie case and zoomed in on the Trademark infringement suit Barbie would have against Nicki Minaj.

Well! What do we have here? The late singer Aaliyah sang in her hit song Try Again” the lyrics,“and if at first you don’t succeed dust yourself off and try again.” Clearly, Bratz took this to heart and they came back aiming and swinging hard at Barbie. It was indeed a nasty fight where Bratz said, “don’t get it twisted” and “take this Barbie” to the tune of $88Million. Ouch!

What next? It ain’t over till it’s really over. Barbie says despite the jury’s ruling (which it seems the jury was quite ticked off at Barbie), they will apply to the court to set aside the judgment. This means, for non-lawyer readers, Barbie will ask the court to essentially ignore the jury’s ruling. Is the Judge going to do this? I highly doubt it. The jury spoke in a resounding way, thanks to what seems like a solid defense team on Bratz’s part. Very interesting. Watch the video below, and then get caught up with the story.

” . . .MGA Entertainment Inc. won an $88.4 million award against Mattel Inc. from a jury that ruled MGA didn’t steal the idea for Bratz dolls from the rival toymaker or infringe its copyright.

The federal court jury in Santa Ana, California, found Mattel, the maker of the Barbie doll, liable for stealing closely held MGA’s trade secrets when its representatives used fake identities to gain access to MGA’s showrooms at toy fairs.

“I think this is really a great victory for all the entrepreneurs around the world, for MGA employees, for my family and more importantly, for all the immigrants who come to this country to pursue the American dream,” Isaac Larian, founder and chief executive officer of MGA, said after the verdict. “It also sends out a message to the multinational companies of the world that they won’t be allowed to bully us.”

Jennifer Keller, a lawyer for Van Nuys, California-based MGA, said the company can seek punitive damages that may triple the award because the jury found Mattel’s conduct was “willful and malicious,” as well as attorney fees.

The jury rejected Mattel’s claim that MGA stole its trade secrets in 2000, when MGA made an agreement with Carter Bryant, the designer who Mattel says worked for it when he came up with the idea for Bratz and made the first sketches. It also rejected claims that the dolls MGA started selling in 2001 violated Mattel’s copyright.

Mattel’s Next Move

Michael T. Zeller, a lawyer for Mattel, said the company will ask the judge to set aside the jurors’ findings and rule in favor of the Mattel claims they rejected.

“There is clear and compelling evidence that overwhelmingly proves that Carter Bryant made these drawings and sketches while he was employed at Mattel,” Zeller said.

The jury awarded Mattel $10,000 in damages on its claims that MGA interfered with the contract of Mattel’s former employee. The jury also found that that Mattel should have known as early as 2002 about the contract interference.

The judge will have to determine whether the damages are barred by the statute of limitations, Thomas McConville, another lawyer for MGA, said after the verdict was read.

A federal appeals court last year overturned a 2008 verdict in Mattel’s favor. A jury in Riverside, California, awarded Mattel $100 million in damages after agreeing that Bryant made most of the initial sketches for the dolls while he worked for El Segundo, California-based Mattel. Mattel had sought as much as $1 billion in damages. . .” Full story on Bloomberg.

Cheers,
Uduak

Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her firm’s fashion and entertainment law practice areas. Ms. Uduak has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts. She has also handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients including network television and licensing deals. Her work and contributions to the creative industry has been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA: ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also the author of Fashionentlaw™ and also has over two decades combined hands on industry experience in the creative industry which includes modeling, retail, fashion production, public relations, digital media, journalism and publishing. For further inquiries or if you are seeking legal representation, please email (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). You may also follow her on twitter at @uduaklaw

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