BRATZ/BARBIE CASE: Evidence erased?

Did Bratz creator erase crucial evidence from his PC?
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Carter Bryant, the creator of Bratz, erased files from his computer two days before handing it over as evidence in the lawsuit filed by Mattel, says a judge in the ongoing case.

Mattel has sued MGA, claiming it owns the original Bratz concept drawings and that the doll's creator, Carter Bryant conceived it while he was under contract to Mattel as a Barbie designer.

Mattel contends that MGA poached Bryant then tried to hide the connection when Bratz became a hit in 2001.

Lawyers for both sides said Bryant had erased files, but they disagreed on what he intended to erase.

US District Judge Stephen Larson said the fact that Bryant used a program called Evidence Eliminator on his computer a few months after Mattel sued him and Bratz maker MGA in 2004 "is relevant to his credibility as a witness".

Defence attorneys for MGA, which is battling to keep its rights to the urban chic dolls, contended that Bryant had merely intended to erase sexually explicit pop up ads.

The lost files possibly included documents relevant to the case, such as emails or drawings, Mattel attorneys said.

The program, sold as a security utility, boasts "secure deletion processes similar to US Government Military Standards," according to its web ads.

Mattel reached a confidential settlement with Bryant before the trial started on May 27th. Bryant is expected to testify later this week.

MGA founder and Chief Executive Isaac Larian spent a third day on the witness stand explaining, under questioning from his company's attorney, what Mattel had portrayed as attempts to hide Bryant's involvement with Bratz.

Larian has repeatedly denied on the witness stand that he intentionally tried to hide Bryant's identity.

He testified that MGA had conversations with Mattel representatives about the bigger company licensing and distributing the soon-to-be launched Bratz in February of 2001.

And MGA attorney Thomas Nolan pointed out a 2003 Wall Street Journal article, in which Larian credits Bryant, "a former member of the Barbie team," with creating Bratz.

That article came about five months after an email to Larian in which an MGA executive remarks that the company "wants to keep Carter under wraps."

Larian said that he had already received a cease and desist letter from Mattel over a Bratz fan site and feared the success of the doll line would draw his larger rival's ire.

"Mattel had sued literally anybody who got into the fashion doll business," he said.

He advised his sales staff in a June 2001 email that "MGA has full, free and clear rights to Bratz trademark and Bratz dolls. I have been advised that Mattel is spreading rumors that there are legal issues regarding Bratz. This is untrue."


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