Bratz land latest blow against Barbie

We have commented on the long saga over the rightful ownership of the Bratz product line leading to the re-trial – which ended today – as to the importance of the proper consideration of the concept of profit apportionment and the scope of intellectual property rights of employees’ off-hours creations (Re-trial begins). The verdict, read today in court in case (CACD–04-cv-09049: Carter Bryant v. Mattel Inc.), gave MGA and Bratz creator Bryant a decisive victory by recognizing that it was they who held the copyrights to the toy line and that Mattel had, as counter claimed by MGA, actually incurred in trade secret misappropriation. The monetary damages award, which we fully expect will be appealed, came to a total of $88.5 million (As reported by the LA Times).

The issues highlighted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last summer, which we commented on at length in a white paper (available here), were just the starting point for this latest trial, where the counterclaims regarding unfair competition and trade secrets rose in importance.

In the profitable toy industry, the issues underlying this particular case continue at the core of the competitive forces and rivalries shaping legal and business strategies; intellectual property remains the single most important repository of value.

We continue to monitor developments in these areas as a matter of course in our IP consulting practice and, for now, we’ll re-ponder on the implications of one of Judge Kozinski’s key statements in the Appeal (emphasis added):

Mattel can’t claim a monopoly over fashion dolls with a bratty look or attitude, or dolls sporting trendy clothing—these are all unprotectable ideas.

One Response to “Bratz land latest blow against Barbie”

  1. […] UPDATE: The trial ended in a surprise verdict, read our post about it here! […]