Mattel Inc., the maker of Barbie, accused rival toymaker MGA Entertainment Inc. of stealing the idea for the pouty, multiethnic Bratz doll in 2000 when it made a deal with the designer who Mattel said worked for them when he made the initial sketches for the doll.
Opening statements started today in Santa Ana, California, federal court for a trial that U.S. District Judge David Carter has said may take as long as four months. Mattel is seeking damages for copyright infringement and trade-secret theft from closely held MGA, which in turn will ask the jury to hold Mattel liable for unfair competition and stealing its trade secrets.
“We will prove to you that Bratz was created at Mattel,” John Quinn, a lawyer for the company, told the jurors. “MGA took Mattel’s design and with it took Mattel’s sales.”
The case returned to court after a $100 million verdict in favor of Mattel was overturned on appeal. MGA said in court filings that Mattel may seek as much as $1.1 billion in damages for its trade-secret claims.
“MGA didn’t steal Bratz from anybody,” Jennifer Keller, a lawyer for the Van Nuys, California-based company, said today in her opening statement.
In 2008, a federal jury in Riverside, California, agreed with Mattel that designer Carter Bryant made most of the initial sketches for the Bratz dolls while he worked for El Segundo, California-based Mattel. The jury awarded the toymaker $100 million in damages and Stephen Larson, the judge presiding over the trial, awarded Mattel rights to most of MGA’s Bratz products.
(RK Rose Kraemer)