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MGA loses $172M in copyright case with Mattel

Some Orange County residents who are interested in business news may have heard about the years-long battle between MGA Entertainment and Mattel over who owns the rights to Bratz dolls. A few years ago, Mattel took MGA to court, saying that it stole the idea for the Bratz dolls. MGA then countered, saying it had been victimized by trade-secret theft.

The case has gone back and forth in court for several years. In 2011, a jury agreed with MGA’s counterclaim. The judge in the case awarded MGA the rights to the popular doll line, saying that the company had not committed copyright infringement. Mattel was ordered to pay $309 million to MGA. However, an appeals court later decided that MGA’s counterclaim was not related to Mattel’s lawsuit and should not have been heard by a jury. Finally, just last week, a panel of judges in Pasadena found that MGA misappropriated trade secrets, taking away more than half of their original award.

Showing just how complex business litigation pertaining to intellectual property can be, MGA has stated that it will once again sue Mattel, this time for trade-secret theft. MGA has accused Mattel of sending people to sneak into its showrooms and steal its ideas.

Although this case may be far from over, it certainly shows how important intellectual property is to a business. Protecting intellectual property is an extremely important aspect of being a successful business, so when something goes wrong and threatens a business’ property, businesses need to know how to seek recourse — or defend themselves if wrongly accused. An experienced intellectual property attorney can help explain the options a business has in any given situation.

Source: Orange County Register, “Court tosses part of Bratz award,” Vik Jolly, Jan. 24, 2013