Barbie doll maker wins Bratz damages

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The Independent Online

A US federal jury awarded Mattel $100m in damages in a copyright lawsuit that pitted the house of Barbie against MGA Entertainment, the maker of the saucy Bratz dolls.

MGA and its chief executive officer, Isaac Larian, were told to pay a total of $90m in three causes of action related to Mattel's employment contract with designer Carter Bryant, who developed the Bratz concept.

The jury also ordered MGA, Mr Larian and subsidiary MGA Hong Kong to pay a total of $10m for copyright infringement.

In a victory for MGA, the jury did not award any punitive damages and found that neither Mr Larian nor MGA acted wilfully when they employed Mr Bryant, a finding that could have dramatically increased the damages.

US District Judge Stephen G. Larson will now consider the awards and make a final decision on how much MGA owes Mattel. MGA plans to argue that some of the awards are duplicative.

MGA hailed the jury decision as vindication in the long-running case.

"This jury found there was no guilt," Mr Larian said.

MGA attorney Thomas Nolan said the jury had awarded a fraction of the damages Mattel had sought.

"We are thrilled that this jury sent a strong message that they want these companies to compete in the marketplace and not the courtroom," Mr Nolan said.

Mattel attorney Bill Price declined to comment after the verdict.

"Mattel has pursued this case first and foremost as a matter of principle," Mattel chief executive officer Robert A. Eckert said. "We have an obligation to defend ourselves against competitors who choose to engage in fraudulent activities against us."

The same jury that decided the damages phase concluded last month that Bratz designer Carter Bryant came up with the Bratz concept while working at Mattel.

Jurors placed the value of Mr Bryant's drawings at $31,500, and awarded that plus interest to Mattel.