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.”
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to talk peace
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11