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May 19, 2011 5:54 PM

In Bratz Battle, MGA Seeks $177 Million in Punitive Damages from Mattel

Posted by Drew Combs

Bratz doll maker MGA Entertainment, Inc., wants rival toy maker Mattel, Inc., to pay $177 million in punitive damages, according to this article from Am Law Daily sibling publication The National Law Journal.

MGA's request comes on the heels of an April federal jury verdict that established the company as the rightful owner of the Bratz line and ordered Mattel to pay its smaller adversary $88.5 million for theft of trade secrets.

In addition to the punitive damages, MGA has moved to collect attorneys’ fees racked up by some of the firms that have represented the company during its seven-year litigation battle with Mattel over Bratz ownership, the NLJ reports.

In addition to fees owed to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Keller Rackaukas--which represented MGA in the most recent trial--The NLJ reports that company is also seeking to recover money earmarked to pay O'Melveny & Myers; which is suing MGA over allegedly unpaid fees, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

The exact amount of the attorneys' fees requested was redacted from publicly available documents, the NLJ notes. Orrick partner Annette Hurst, who represented MGA at trial, told The NLJ that the figure has been kept private because, “the company is a private company and considers it financial confidential information.” (That hasn't stopped MGA CEO Isaac Larian from estimating publicly that the company's  legal fees in the case total some $150 million.)

In its filing, the company asserts that "Mattel waged war against MGA in this litigation, using every means available to a litigant to multiply the expense, burden, and business disruption," according to The NLJ.

The latest courtroom twist in the case came on April 21, when a federal jury rejected Mattel’s claims that MGA infringed its copyrights after hiring away toy designer Carter Bryant, who created the Bratz line. The jury also found that Mattel had stolen MGA’s trade secrets by having its employees spy at industry trade shows.

The ruling represented a reversal of fortune for the parties. In July 2008 a federal jury found that Mattel owned early drawings and mock-ups of the Bratz dolls because Bryant was under contract with Mattel at the time the doll line was conceived. That jury also awarded Mattel $100 million.

The jury also found that Larian intentionally interfered with the contract between Mattel and Bryant. Mattel was awarded damages of $10,000, the NLJ reports. 

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