A final judgment was recently issued in a long-running copyright infringement lawsuit between toy-makers MGA Entertainment, Inc. and Mattel Inc. involving MGA’s “Bratz” line of dolls. A federal judge in California denied a request by Mattel Inc. to set aside a multi-million dollar judgment that was rendered against it five months earlier.
The dispute arose seven years ago when Mattel filed a copyright infringement lawsuit claiming a former employee who had contributed to the design of Mattel’s Barbie line of dolls had disclosed trade secrets upon going to work for MGA, a competitor. Mattel claimed that the “inventions agreement” the employee signed prevented him from sharing any of his ideas, regardless of whether he was physically at work or home when he developed the ideas.
In addition to denying Mattel’s claims, MGA countersued, alleging that Mattel had engaged in unfair business practices and corporate spying upon realizing that they their Barbie line was unable to compete with MGA’s Bratz line of dolls. In the ensuing litigation, a jury found that MGA was the rightful owner of the Bratz line and that Mattel did indeed steal trade secrets, awarding $88.5 million in damages to MGA.
In the recent ruling, the prior award was reduced to $85 million, but an additional $85 million was added in the form of punitive damages against Mattel. MGA has filed a separate antitrust lawsuit against Mattel, which is scheduled to be heard in October.