Mattel, MGA begin Bratz battle

Federal court case between Mattel and MGA Entertainment over Bratz ownership gets underway.
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Mattel and MGA have both offered theories of when and how the Bratz doll was invented as part of their opening statements in court, as Mattel contends it owns the copyright to the urban themed doll.

John Quinn, attorney for Mattel, told jurors that MGA secretly bought former Mattel employee, Carter Bryant’s, design to bolster its offerings. Quinn then offered to the jury that MGA tried to cover up Bryant’s involvement.

"For nearly a year, the designer had been working on a doll he called Bratz," Quinn said in his opening statement. "MGA didn't hire him right away. They polished the fashion doll design using Mattel resources and Mattel personnel."

MGA, however, argued the Bratz dolls were conceived in 1998 during an eight-month break Bryant took from Mattel.

The firm’s attorney, Thomas Nolan, offered in his opening statement: “I will deny that MGA stole an idea. Mattel … (is) trying to get an idea they did not create and a doll they did not make.”

According to Quinn, Mattel plans to show that Bryant made the original Bratz sketches on paper torn from a Mattel-provided notebook after he signed an invention agreement ceding rights to anything he created upon returning to the firm in January 1999. The firm also intends to put other designers on the stand, who helped with the design before Bryant left Mattel in late 2000.

Mattel chairman and CEO, Bob Eckert, said in a statement: "Today's trial is about Bratz and MGA, and in particular the question 'who came up with Bratz and when'.

"The court has already ruled that Bratz-related designs and concepts created by Carter Bryant while he was a Mattel employee are owned by Mattel. I'm pleased that these issues are finally in front of a jury."

But MGA chief executive, Isaac Larian, said: "The court has not ruled in Mattel's favour that the Bratz-related designs and concepts created by Carter Bryant while he was an employee at Mattel are owned by Mattel. We are very pleased that the jury will finally hear and see the evidence."

Mattel and Bryant sued each other over the invention agreement but confidentially settled their claims earlier this month.

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