Summary by Daniel Zendel
On December 4, 2008 Ladas & Parry partner, Dan Zendel, was interviewed by CNN International and asked by Anchor and Correspondent Maggie Lake to comment on the BRATZ case, Carter Bryant v. Mattel, Inc. Portions of the interview were aired on CNN International during the afternoon of December 4, 2008. The U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Eastern Division issued sweeping Orders wherein MGA Entertainment Inc. and other related entities were permanently enjoined from using the BRATZ dolls in any manner including, but not limited to selling, copying and distribution thereof. The case, which involves a number of copyright and trademark issues was originally decided by a jury which found for Mattel and awarded damages totaling $100,000,000 for copyright infringement and breach of contract.
The post-trial dispute, which resulted in the sweeping Orders issued by U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson, was viewed as a major victory for Mattel, which successfully argued that the concept and copyrighted materials were developed by Carter Bryant when he was an employee of Mattel. Since the copyrighted materials were developed while Mr. Bryant was an employee of Mattel the work-for-hire principle was upheld, resulting in ownership of the copyrights by Mattel. After leaving Mattel Mr. Bryant joined MGA Entertainment where the product line of BRATZ dolls and other goods was fully developed and marketed, as well as expanded to include numerous other dolls in addition to the original four which were conceived while Mr. Bryant was still employed by Mattel.
The ruling was extensive and enjoined MGA from selling, marketing, and distributing almost all of the doll products, many of which were designed and developed after Mr. Bryant joined MGA.
MGA announced its decision to appeal the verdict, claiming the scope of the injunction is too broad. MGA will apparently seek to stay enforcement of the Orders until the appeal is decided. The stakes for both Mattel and especially MGA are quite high. According to published reports BRATZ product sales through June 2008 were $3.1 billions dollars.