MGA Seeks $339 Million in Damages, Fees From Mattel for Bratz

Bratz doll maker MGA Entertainment Inc. asked a judge to triple the $88.4 million in damages it won from Mattel Inc. and to award it attorney fees and costs in the seven-year fight over rights to the dolls.

In a proposed order filed yesterday in federal court in Santa Ana, California, MGA asked U.S. District Judge David Carter to award it $177 million in punitive damages, $129.7 million in attorneys fees, and $32.4 million in costs. The company also asked the judge to award it $4.3 million in restitution from Mattel based on unfair competition claims.

Carter, in an order yesterday, postponed a hearing scheduled for today until tomorrow for arguments on MGA’s requests as well as on Mattel’s motion to throw out the April 21 jury verdict holding it liable for misappropriating MGA’s trade secrets.

Closely held MGA, based in Van Nuys, California, said in a May 6 fee request that Barbie-doll maker Mattel set out to destroy most of the value of its business and succeeded.

Mattel has asked Carter to reject the request for legal costs, saying its copyright-infringement claims were “objectively reasonable.” El Segundo, California-based Mattel also said MGA wasn’t entitled to an additional $177 million in punitive damages for trade-secret misappropriation claims.

‘Sneak Peek’

“At issue in this case is, at most, a sneak peek at 26 toys displayed at six toy fairs over a six-year period,” Mattel said in a May 13 response to MGA’s request for damages. “No one died. No towns were lost. MGA suffered no actual injury and did not even claim at trial that it did.”

Lisa Marie Bongiovanni, a Mattel spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment after regular business hours yesterday. The amount of attorneys fees MGA is seeking hadn’t been disclosed in previous public filings, which were redacted.

The jury agreed with MGA that Mattel stole its trade secrets when Mattel’s employees gained access to MGA’s showrooms at toy fairs using phony business cards. The jurors awarded MGA $3.4 million for each of the 26 instances in which they found that Mattel had misappropriated a trade secret.

The jury rejected Mattel’s claim that MGA stole its trade secrets in 2000, when MGA made an agreement with Carter Bryant, the designer whom Mattel said was working for it when he came up with the idea for Bratz and made the first sketches. It also rejected claims that the pouty multiethnic dolls MGA started selling in 2001 violated Mattel’s copyright.

The case is Bryant v. Mattel, 04-09049, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

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