Legal Industry News
December 4, 2008
Mattel Wins Injunction to Stop Manufacture and Sale of Bratz Dolls
In a decision filed late Wednesday, a U.S. District Court, judge granted an injunction request by Mattel, Inc., permanently barring MGA Entertainment Inc. from manufacturing and selling Bratz doll products. In his order, Judge Stephen Larson ordered MGA to immediately stop the manufacture and sales of the Bratz lines, and deliver all of its Bratz merchandise to Mattel. The order confirms that Mattel Inc. is the proper legal owner of the toy line, and has the additional right to recall all unsold Bratz products.
The court order stemmed from a jury finding this past summer that Bratz doll designer Carter Bryant came up with the Bratz concept while working under an exclusive contract with Mattel. Under that contract, Mattel automatically owned of the Bratz concept, which directly competes with Mattel’s flagship Barbie line. The jury ultimately awarded Mattel $10 million for copyright infringement and $90 million for breach of contract against MGA, along with granting Mattel the rights to key early drawings and a mock-up that Bryant produced at Mattel before he joined MGA. Bryant reached a sealed agreement with Mattel before the trial began.
The order dealt a huge blow to Van Nuys-based MGA, a family-owned company that based its entire toy empire on Bratz products, employing more than 1,500 people. “Factually, the hardship on MGA weighs very heavily upon the court,” Larson wrote in his opinion. But the court, he continued, “in the final analysis, must afford this very little, if any, weight.” Larson wrote that while there was a “strong economic interest” in keeping a profitable company healthy during challenging economic times, “there is also a strong public interest in enforcing copyright laws.”
The Bratz legal battle has raged for more than four years – MGA has spent about $80 million in legal fees trying to maintain its ownership and control over Bratz. Just between January and September 2008, Mattel spent about $30 million in legal fees.
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