Jury Rules Against Mattel in Doll Case

April 21, 2011 – It is not often you get a guy to pay attention to a case involving dolls. But this case has piqued my interest. Earlier today, a federal jury in California found that Mattel misappropriated trade secrets belonging to MGA Entertainment. These trade secrets involved the sale, manufacturing, marketing, and selling of the popular “Bratz” doll line. In short, the jury found that Mattel did not “own” the rights to the doll and that those rights belonged to MGA Entertainment. Part of the problem facing Mattel is, while it did not own the rights, it was selling the “Bratz” dolls and making money on them. As part of the verdict, the jury awarded over $88 million to MGA Entertainment for damages as a result of the misappropriation.

It overall is an interesting case. For a synthesized version of the story, you can click here. This will take you to the CNN story. Or, if you are an attorney (or just enjoy looking at the nuts and bolts of the legal profession) you can click here for a link to the actual verdict form.

This is not the end of the story. Mattel will file various motions and, if those motions are not successful, will appeal to the 9th Circuit. One thing that will be interesting to see play out is the “interference with contract” claim in which Mattel was successful. If MGA interfered with the contract of one of the developers, what impact did that ultimately have on the “Bratz” line? That is to say, if Mattel proved the interference with contract, can MGA be said to have lawfully acquired the rights to the dolls? I ask these questions, of course, knowing little about the case, other than what is in the CNN story and the verdict form.

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