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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier