We were pretty shocked when a judge ordered doll maker MGA to hand over
pretty much everything having to do with Bratz dolls to Mattel, the maker of Barbie -- one of the key products Bratz competes against. While some of the facts are disputed by various parties, it does seem pretty clear that a Mattel designer was working on the concept of Bratz and then went to MGA to make the dolls instead. Mattel claims that it owns the entire concept because its contract with the designer included all rights to things he worked on while under their employ. Even if you accept all that, it seemed to go too far to not just provide monetary payments and/or an injunction, but to tell MGA to hand over the entire line of dolls including future plans
for the dolls. That seems to go well beyond the scope of what's reasonable -- and it seems like the appeals court might agree. It has lifted the original deadline
for when MGA had to transfer stuff over to Mattel and seems to be considering whether itself goes too far, saying that handing all of that over to Mattel seemed "draconian."
Even if we grant that the designer created the dolls while he worked at Mattel, it takes more than just an idea to be successful. Yet this ruling seems to put the entire value
of not just the Bratz line of dolls, but every forward thinking innovation in the Bratz line, into that single idea. That's going way too far. Sure, perhaps there should be some sort of sanctions or punishment, but MGA did a lot more than just see this idea, snap its fingers and have a success on its hands. The execution was what made it work, and it seems silly to ignore all of that and assume that the entire value is in the idea -- and everything else needs to be handed over because the guy had the idea while still at Mattel.