First, December’s 15, 2009’s story:
It’s back! The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the trial judge’s order basically liquidating the Bratz. Here’s what the WSJ Law Blog reported last week:
The Ninth Circuit on Wednesday ruled that Bratz maker MGA Entertainment can continue selling its dolls, despite the stinging defeat it suffered last year a jury when a Riverside, Calif., jury awarded Mattel, Inc. $100 million in damages in a closely followed copyright-infringement lawsuit. . . .
The judges on the appellate panel, Alex Kozinski, Kim Wardlaw and Stephen Trott, questioned whether the trial judge went too far by awarding MGA’s Bratz doll franchise to Mattel and wondered why he didn’t instead award Mattel a royalty or ownership stake in the company.
I never played with dolls due to a household manliness mandate, and I’m already uncomfortable blogging about this for the fourth time, so let’s just note it and go back to what I was doing with this here mitre box and also I’m going to do some re-grouting on some tiles somewhere before bed. Which I sleep in wearing a rustic burnoose emblazoned with my varsity letter. With the windows open.
Bratz-tip to Jaded Topaz!
UPDATE: In response to certain inquiries, a clarification: No, I did not actually earn a varsity letter in high school or otherwise. But the one on my night-burnoose is “mine.” It’s a kind of … trophy I took from the still-quivering hulk of the middle-linebacker I brutally beat up and left for dead in a Chicago alley, okay?
Now, today’s update:
No surprise here in light of the earlier ruling, but stunning nonetheless: The Ninth Circuit kayos the award! Choice quote — Kozinski, of course — via Bloomberg:
Even assuming that MGA took some ideas wrongfully, it added tremendous value by turning the ideas into products and, eventually, a popular and highly profitable brand. It is not equitable to transfer this billion-dollar brand, the value of which is overwhelmingly the result of MGA’s legitimate efforts, because it may have started with two misappropriated names.
That’s going to ruin a lot of Big IP summers on Cape Cod this weekend.
UPDATE: For Mattel, it only gets worse:
[Today a] U.S. jury decided that MGA Entertainment Inc is the rightful owner of the once-billion dollar line of pouty-lipped Bratz dolls.
The astonishing loss for the world’s largest toy maker concluded a case that began in 2004, when MGA’s line of dolls was all the rage among teen and preteen girls. Mattel accused Van Nuys, California-based MGA of stealing its designs by hiring away a key employee.
Mattel CEO Robert Eckert sat stone-faced, staring straight ahead as the verdict was read on Thursday in a Santa Ana, California, federal courtroom. He said afterward that he was disappointed by the verdict.
“We remain committed to protecting the intellectual property that is at the heart of business success,” Eckert said in an email.
What? MGA’s intellectual property?
The opinion’s here.