Mattel's Lawsuit To Claim Ownership Of Bratz Comes Back To Bite Big Time: Told To Pay $309 Million

from the damn dept

As Stephan Kinsella notes, "live by IP, die by IP." You may recall the infamous legal fight over who owns the Bratz dolls. I won't go through the full history, but basically Mattel claimed that it owned the rights to Bratz dolls, because the creator of those dolls worked at Mattel (though not in a doll designing job) at the time he developed the dolls (not during work time). That guy eventually went to competitor MGA who produced the Bratz line of dolls. Mattel racked up an early series of wins in the case. Those wins seemed far overreaching. Not only did they give Mattel the rights to the original Bratz dolls, but all future plans as well, despite none of that having anything to do with Mattel.

Thankfully, sanity was regained at the appelate level, and eventually things turned around to bite Mattel for bringing the lawsuit in the first place. That's because the lawsuit allowed MGA to countersue over trade secrets violations. In April, we noted that this might end up costing Mattel $88.5 million, as the court rejected all of Mattel's claims and sided with MGA on the trade secret claim.

Turns out the result was even more damaging for Mattel. The court didn't just stick with the $88.5 million award the jury gave. Instead, while he "reduced" the jury award to $85 million, he then tacked on another $85 million in punitive damages and told Mattel to pay $137 million in legal fees to MGA. Total bill? Mattel has to fork over $309.8 million. All for a lawsuit Mattel brought in the first place. And that doesn't count the estimated $400 million that Mattel spent in legal fees during this fight. Add it all up and Mattel's decision to sue appears to have cost the company upwards of $700 million dollars.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 5:49pm

    Now watch them act like Bratz and appeal this somewhere.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 5:53pm

    Nicely Done

    Of course, the shareholders will be outraged that so much of their money has been thrown down the drain by the company's foolish lawyers and managers. Naturally, there will be a terrible retribution against the perps. Any lawyer who was even peripherally involved can expect to get sacked. Likewise for any manager or executive. There is no way the CEO can survive.

    Or maybe not. Meanwhile, in the world of the corporate psychopath and narcissist, all these legal losses are definitely somebody else's fault. Who could have ever predicted what those mean old judges might do? The executives and lawyers feel terrible about what has happened. Further punishing them would be dreadful. Sacking them would be out of the question, they are highly skilled and important corporate officers. Indeed they might need to be given a luxury holiday at company expense plus a nice bonus, to make them feel better.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 5:53pm

    Haha. Pwned.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 5:54pm

    Good.

    I'll leave it to others to decide whether the amount is excessive, but from what I've heard Mattel has been overreaching on its IP for a number of years now. I'm glad to see somebody has slapped them down.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 6:04pm

    The question is: Will Mattel know when to cut it's losses? Or will it continue to throw good money after bad? Also, will they try something similar in the future, or have they learned from their mistake?

     

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

  6.  
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    SUNWARD (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 6:13pm

    400 million in legal fees?

    sounds very high!

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    someone (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 6:35pm

    Mattel paid $400mil to lawyers, Bratz lawyers got $137mil so $537mil to lawyers.

    Seems the only people who won were the lawyers......

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 6:37pm

    Re:

    From Yahoo finance:

    Mattel, Inc.(NasdaqGS: MAT )
    Market Cap: 8.40B
    Total Assets (from balance sheet): 5.42B

    Letmesee, according to Mike, this lawsuit cost $0.7B. So if they pursue the all litigation all the time route, I figure their assets can support at least seven such lawsuits.

    After that, there's an extra $3B in the market cap. Dunno if that can be tapped to fund further lawsuits...

     

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  9.  
    icon
    Atkray (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 6:51pm

    Re:

    No in this case MGA actually won as well because now they can go back to making money by producing dolls instead of lawsuits.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 6:53pm

    Just two words: IM POSSIBLE.

    That they could have spent $400M on lawyers. No matter how complex the case, staff lawyers just aren't that expensive. (I assume they went outside to spend that much.) -- YET I suspect a rake-off / kickback scheme from lawyers to executives; plus tax advantages by a padded expense account. Yes, just a guess on my part, but $400 MILLION! Nobody would be THAT crazy! -- If anyone can say it's genuine, please don't: leave me my illusions.

    In any event, it's another story where chasing money leads to stupid excesses.

     

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

  11.  
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    Perry K (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 7:23pm

    unbelievable

    So, how many lawyers at what rate for how long add up to $537 million?

    I can't wrap my head around that number.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 7:32pm

    Re: Re:

    Assets aren't "liquid assets". That's not the cash they have on hand.

     

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

  13.  
    icon
    mrtraver (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 7:50pm

    Re:

    Of course. Lawyers write and pass the laws, to enable them to keep raping in benefits like this.

     

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

  14.  
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    mrtraver (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Re:

    edit: reaping

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well they better get to selling some of that other junk while the wait for their new Bratz production equipment to arrive and take its place

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 7:58pm

    Re: 400 million in legal fees?

    That's what hit me too - I had to go collect my head from under the desk 'cuz it fell off and rolled away when I read that.

    Them's some bigass billables, man.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 8:15pm

    .7 billion dollars over a F^cknig doll, amazing just F^cking amazing.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 8:15pm

    That's expensive even for hooker dolls.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 8:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, the original works too.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 8:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think I liked it more when it was raping that sounds more like what a lawyer does.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 9:00pm

    $400 million in legal fees?

    If the fight lasted 4 years, and they paid an average of a $1,000,000 yearly salary for their lawyers, that would mean Mattel had 100 lawyers working full time on just this case.

    I'm trying to figure out exactly what that many lawyers could have been doing for that length of time on ONE case.

     

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

  22.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 9:06pm

    Re: unbelievable

    It's Washington math ... it doesn't make sense.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 9:08pm

    Re:

    The question is: Will Mattel know when to cut it's losses?

    Of course not.

    Or will it continue to throw good money after bad?

    Of course they will.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 9:12pm

    It's funny seeing how many comments are racking up on how much lawyers get out of this.

    The legal system desperately needs some revamping.

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 9:20pm

    Re: $400 million in legal fees?

    The billable hours at large law firms are done in some fraction of an hour, just like consultants for the government. You bill the minimum of 1/4 hour and you get a half hour billed, even if you only spent 20 seconds answering an e-mail. That is why the costs are so high.

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    kentiler (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 10:45pm

    Re: Re: $400 million in legal fees?

    That's still 400 attorneys working full time for a year at a rediculously high billing rate of $500/hour!

    Or it could be 200 attorneys working for 4 years solid at a $250/hour billing rate.

    I guess there are court costs, etc. to figure in, but that amount still seems really high.

     

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

  27.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Aug 6th, 2011 @ 12:02am

    Re: Just two words: IM POSSIBLE.

    Never underestimate a silver tongued lawyer....who can't win a case properly.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Aug 6th, 2011 @ 12:03am

    Re:

    I was thinking more, "Take it out the back and shoot it," as it's currently unfit for purpose.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 6th, 2011 @ 1:30am

    Re: The legal system desperately needs some revamping.

    You mean, to cut out abuses? Make sure only the “good” ones get in, and keep out the riff-raff?

    Have Bar Associations regulating everything, and deciding who gets to practise and who doesn’t?

    Why do you think the costs are so high?

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Aug 6th, 2011 @ 2:29am

    Re: Re: The legal system desperately needs some revamping.

    No kidding. I heard of a case awhile back when a guy was actually sued by the local bar association because he was helping seniors fill out the proper paperwork for their wills. I don't think it was so much that he didn't have a license to practice law that pissed them off. It's more likely that they weren't getting their full fees for giving cookie cutter consolations for information that could be found in a $5 book, or free online, and the fees from lawsuits that sometimes arise from badly managed, or missing, wills. The fees from a case such as "Jarndyce and Jarndyce" would make them as giddy as schoolgirls!

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2011 @ 3:33am

    Truth?

    I heard they are referred to internally as the Shitz

     

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

  32.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Aug 6th, 2011 @ 4:13am

    Re: Nicely Done

    Or maybe they could all be thrown feet first into a slow-running wood chipper, while on fire. Now that would be appropriate.

     

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

  33.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Aug 6th, 2011 @ 4:14am

    Re: 400 million in legal fees?

    Sounds very right!

     

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

  34.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Aug 6th, 2011 @ 4:16am

    Re:

    Was that a turnip truck that just drove by? Did you injure yourself when you fell off?

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2011 @ 6:28am

    I bet you the CEO of Mattel still gets a bonus. Harrr, Harr Harr.

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    Will Sizemore (profile), Aug 6th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    $400M...

    That amount probably doesn't include ONLY salaries. They probably included fees for each filing, rent or lease on facilities so the lawyers had offices to work from, signing bonuses to get more lawyers, new computers, monitors, fax machines, etc., and IT staff to maintain that equipment, office staff to bring in coffee and food while the lawyers 'slaved' over every bit of legal jargon, applicable or not, and perhaps THAT could add up to the $400M.

    Its still too much money to be thrown away. I wonder how much of the court fees and penalties are counted as actual revenue for our government.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Aug 6th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    Re: $400 million in legal fees?

    Playing Angry Birds.

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Aug 6th, 2011 @ 12:23pm

    Re: $400 million in legal fees?

    Ok, ok I got it, they were playing Angry-Lawyers :)

     

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

  39.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Aug 6th, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: unbelievable

    It's less Washington math and more Crazy moon folk math.

    Oh wait...

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2011 @ 4:39pm

    Too Big To Fail

    I don't know what this might do to Mattel's bottom line, but I'm sure they're too big to be allowed to fail. Maybe the taxpayers will get to pickup the tab for this.

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2011 @ 4:43pm

    Re: Re:

    The question is: Will Mattel know when to cut it's losses?
    Of course not.
    Or will it continue to throw good money after bad?
    Of course they will.


    Especially since they can count of the gov't bailing them out.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2011 @ 4:45pm

    Re: Re:

    No in this case MGA actually won as well because now they can go back to making money by producing dolls instead of lawsuits.

    Markets are time sensitive. They may have lost the opportunity.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    SKIBOY352001, Aug 7th, 2011 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, I believe your first post stated it more accurately.

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    hugh williams, Aug 7th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    this will be in courts for years as there will be appeal after appeal

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    Shaun, Aug 7th, 2011 @ 3:57pm

    L. O. L.

    Way to go Mattel.

    Unfortunately I don't see them changing their ways. They're probably bitching about how 'bad' the judge was. Trolls gotta troll.

     

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

  46.  
    icon
    jd2112 (profile), Aug 7th, 2011 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Nicely Done

    Or maybe not. Meanwhile, in the world of the corporate psychopath and narcissist, all these legal losses are definitely somebody else's fault. Who could have ever predicted what those mean old judges might do? The executives and lawyers feel terrible about what has happened. Further punishing them would be dreadful. Sacking them would be out of the question, they are highly skilled and important corporate officers. Indeed they might need to be given a luxury holiday at company expense plus a nice bonus, to make them feel better.

    Or even worse, they could go to a competitor and start a new toy line that Matell would have to sue over.

     

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

  47.  
    icon
    BuzzCoastin (profile), Aug 7th, 2011 @ 10:32pm

    the lawyers won

    It pretty obvious that the lawyers won; even the losing lawyers got paid, as does the judge and his staff. It was a fine piece of lawyer wrangling and good time was had by all.

     

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

  48.  
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    Eldakka (profile), Aug 8th, 2011 @ 12:28am

    Re: Re: Re: $400 million in legal fees?

    $500/hour is not a particularly high rate for a lawyer. Probably an experienced (but not senior) associate.

    Partners at big firms bill $1000+ hour.

     

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

  49.  
    identicon
    Schmoo, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 2:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    $700m may not be the final bill after all...

     

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

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think raping is correct... just ask the shareholders.

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    Re: $400 million in legal fees?

    First they had to make 'life size' replicas of all the dolls so that they could have the lawyers show each other where the 'bad doll' touched them.... Oh wait, the life size dolls were only for the lawyers recreational activities... but they still had to have them so that they could see and probe the similarities and differences between Barbie and the Brazt dolls.

    The other $350 million went to the hookers and blow that supported the life size doll comparison party that went on for 6 months while they tried to figure out who was best at 'pinning the tale' on the dolls....

     

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

  52.  
    identicon
    katrina, Sep 8th, 2012 @ 4:35am

    Firstly stolen from Europe

    Mattel firstly copied the (Barbie) Doll from Bild Lilli a German doll so they don't have the right to any copy rights on barbie!!!!!

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    katrina, Sep 8th, 2012 @ 4:35am

    Firstly stolen from Europe

    Mattel firstly copied the (Barbie) Doll from Bild Lilli a German doll so they don't have the right to any copy rights on barbie!!!!!

     

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


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