SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A federal appeals court on Thursday tossed out $172 million in damages Mattel Inc. had been ordered to pay the maker of Bratz dolls, the latest twist in a bitter 9-year legal dispute over commercial rights to the ethnically diverse, pouty-lipped toys.
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a jury should not have been allowed to consider MGA Entertainment Inc.’s claims that it was the victim of trade secret theft during a trial convened to consider Mattel’s lawsuit alleging MGA stole the idea for Bratz from Mattel.
The convoluted case dates back to 2004 when El Segundo-based Mattel first filed a lawsuit claiming Bratz designer Carter Bryant was working for Mattel when he did the initial drawings and early work on the provocative, hip hop-inspired dolls with large eyes, heads, lips and feet, and tiny noses.
The Bratz doll, introduced in 2001, was a blockbuster hit with “tweens,” and gave Barbie a run for her money after decades of fashion doll dominance.
A jury awarded Mattel $100 million in 2008 and found that Bryant had developed the Bratz concept while with Mattel, but the 9th Circuit overturned that verdict and a new trial was ordered.
Before the start of the second trial in Santa Ana, Calif., U.S. District Judge David Carter allowed MGA to submit a counterclaim to the jury that accused Mattel of engaging in corporate espionage at toy fairs and conspiring to keep Bratz products off retail shelves.
In April 2011, a jury rejected Mattel’s claims and sided with MGA. Mattel was ordered to pay MGA a total of $309 million in damages and legal fees.
On Thursday, a unanimous three-judge panel ruled that the trial judge was wrong to allow the jury to consider MGA’s counterclaims because they were unrelated to Mattel’s initial lawsuit.
MGA said it would continue to pursue its trade-theft claims by filing a new lawsuit.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, writing for the same panel that overturned the initial verdict in 2008, said that MGA could keep $137 million in legal costs spent fighting the Mattel lawsuit.
“While this may not be the last word on the subject,” Kozinski concluded, “perhaps Mattel and MGA can take a lesson from their target demographic: Play nice.”
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain
- Ticking time bombs: Telltale signs your water heater is about to explode
- Reading glasses could be a thing of the past
- 6 cool ways teachers are using technology in the classroom
- Emerging tech jobs in Phoenix and how to get one in 2017
- 4 top treatments athletes use for pain
- Emergency! What to do when bathrooms flood
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains