Update – Barbie drops copyright claim against Bratz, appeals US$300 million judgment

After an 8-year legal battle in the United States, Barbie manufacturer Mattel has abandoned its copyright claim over the Bratz dolls, made by rival company MGA.  However, in papers recently filed with the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Mattel has appealed the whopping US$300 million bill awarded against it for damages and legal fees in the case.

We previously reported on MGA’s retrial victory here, where a federal jury dismissed the copyright infringement claims made against the Bratz makers, and instead awarded MGA US$88.5 million for misappropriation of trade secrets by Mattel.  

The presiding Judge Carter later reduced the jury’s award to US$85 million due to a slight “mathematical error”, but then granted MGA an additional US$85 million in exemplary damages.  A further US$137 million was awarded to MGA for legal fees and other defence costs associated with defending the failed copyright claims brought by Mattel – resulting in a total award of over US$300 million.

Despite still publicly asserting that the Bratz doll designs have always belonged to Mattel, lawyers for the company filed papers with the US Court of Appeals on 27 February 2012 stating that “after two trials and eight years of litigation”, they will not contest the copyright finding in their appeal.  Instead, Mattel is basing the appeal on arguments that:

  • MGA’s successful claim for misappropriation of trade secrets was filed too late;
  • MGA failed to prove that the information misappropriated by Mattel constituted a “trade secret” in every case; and
  • the legal fees awarded to MGA were wrongly calculated and an abuse of discretion.

So while ownership of the “Girls with a passion for Fashion!” is no longer in doubt, the lengthy legal drama is not quite over yet.

About the Author

Melissa Anderson
A certified chocoholic and avid tennis player, Melissa works as a solicitor in the Sydney IP litigation team. When she’s not brushing up on trade marks, domain names or copyright law, you can generally find her either (i) eating chocolate, (ii) sipping hot chocolate, (iii) searching for her next chocolate fix … or (iv) working off the chocolate on a tennis court!
View all posts by Melissa Anderson

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