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.

Filed Under: barbie, bratz, intellectual property
Companies: mattel, mga

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


    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.

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