Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
dolls, espionage

Companies:
mattel, mga



MGA Claims Mattel Acted Like Bratz In Secretly Spying On MGA Plans

from the on-the-counteroffensive dept

It looks like toymaker MGA has decided that if the momentum is turning in its ongoing legal fight with competitor Mattel, it might as well go all in. As you may recall, Mattel had sued MGA over its (extraordinarily successful) Bratz lines of dolls, because the designer who came up with the concept had done so while working at Mattel. This resulted in an amazingly broad ruling against MGA that required it to basically turn over everything having to do with Bratz dolls, including future plans, to Mattel. This made no sense. If Mattel was to get the rights to anything from MGA, it should have only been the original expression if they were actually produced under the Mattel employment contract (a point of dispute). Thankfully, the appeals court realized what a terrible ruling this was, and rejected most of it.

With momentum moving to MGA, the company has now filed headline-grabbing counterclaims against Mattel, concerning revelations, supposedly unearthed during depositions for the case, of widespread and potentially illegal corporate espionage done by Mattel on MGA and many other toy companies, including setting up fake personas so that people working for Mattel could get into toy showcases from competitors that were closely guarded secrets.

While it does make for a good story, it's not entirely clear what this really has to do with the case at hand. Corporate espionage happens all the time, as competitors try to get a leg up on one another. It seems like a bit of a tangent for MGA to even bother to bring this up now. Why not just focus on the key issue of retaining the rights to the lucrative Bratz dolls?

Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:14pm

    It is one thing to use publicl avaiable information to figure out what a competitor is up to. It is quite another to infiltrate a competitor's organization to do so.

    Thus, it is not in my view unreasonable for MGA to file a new cause of action for what it alleges Mattel has done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      BearGriz72 (profile), 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:22pm

      Re:

      Counterclaim != A new cause of action

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 19 Aug 2010 @ 11:40pm

      Re:

      It is one thing to use publicl avaiable information to figure out what a competitor is up to. It is quite another to infiltrate a competitor's organization to do so.

      It's not clear that they "infiltrated" the organization. They went to toy showcase events under false pretenses... which is not quite the same thing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Weston, 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:39pm

    I disagree with author ...

    Mike I disagree,

    I think it is a good strategy by MGA ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Designerfx (profile), 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:50pm

    corporate espionage

    the issue is not that the espionage occurs, but more questions about the legality of how it is done.

    a great majority of the time corporate espionage is hardly legal by any stretch, and represents both a: a liability in terms of actual money, but also as far as a company's reputation.

    example: HP pretexting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2010 @ 5:10am

    We bought my daughter a Barbie doll for Christmas once, but my son beat it to death against the side of the garage before the day was done. Actually I think that's why she asked for it, because she laughed the whole time he beat on it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, 20 Aug 2010 @ 6:18pm

    "The best defense is a good offense"

    From Wikipedia;"The adage has also been applied in the intellectual property realm, in reference to patent trolls",
    and, I might add, generally.
    Any attorney who does not enthusiastically represent his/her client in any reasonable (and some would say beyond that) should give up the profession.
    Of course, the client controls; but any worthwhile attorney will advise a counteroffensive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hongjingjing (profile), 22 Aug 2010 @ 7:25pm

    But

    It is one thing to use publicl avaiable information to figure out what a competitor is up to. It is quite another to infiltrate a competitor's organization to do so.ghd straighteners

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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