Federal judge orders Barbie to pay Bratz $310 million

Bratz doll maker, MGA, has won a nearly $310 million dollar award in federal court after a lengthy trade secrets court battle with Mattel Inc. The Barbie doll manufacturer accused MGA of capitalizing on the ideas of a former Mattel employee – ideas Mattel claimed were formed while the creator still worked for them.

Mattel’s legal team asserted that the Bratz doll inventor was under contract when he invented the concept for the new dolls in 1999. The doll designer disputed the claim in court, testifying that he was on hiatus from Mattel and living in Missouri when the idea for Bratz dolls came to him.

The award in the trade secret dispute comes after three years of litigation and two trials. A 2008 California jury favored with Mattel for $100 million in damages. An appellate court later reversed the decision, saying MGA should be awarded “sweat equity” for making Bratz dolls.

Earlier this year, a federal jury backed MGA.

The jury in the three-month retrial found that Mattel’s copyright infringement claims had no basis in fact and that Mattel, not MGA, had stolen doll ideas. The Bratz maker was awarded $88.5 million.

The latest award brings MGA’s total court winnings to more than $309 million. The federal judge portioned $85 million for punitive damages and the remaining $2.5 million for MGA’s legal costs in its suit against Mattel. In a separate judgment, another $137 million was given to MGA to pay for its defense against Mattel’s charges.

The CEO of MGA announced after the awards ruling that the doll maker is planning an antitrust suit against Mattel for what he said was a loss of $1 billion in brand damages as a result of the highly publicized lawsuits.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Mattel must pay MGA $310 million in Bratz case,” Andrea Chang, Aug. 5, 2011