A federal jury awarded Mattel Inc. $100 million Tuesday in a federal copyright lawsuit that pitted the house of Barbie against MGA Entertainment Inc., maker of Bratz dolls.
Damages were awarded for contract interference and copyright infringement. No punitive damages were ordered against MGA, which said the award is excessive and plans to ask the trial judge to set total damages at no more than $40 million.
The same jury that decided the damages phase concluded last month that Bratz designer Carter Bryant came up with the concept while working at Mattel.
In his closing arguments, Mattel attorney John Quinn said MGA owed Mattel at least $1 billion in Bratz profits and interest, while MGA chief executive Isaac Larian aided in the breach of contract and owed nearly $800 million for his complicity.
MGA attorneys countered that the jury should award Mattel as little as $30 million because the company had built the doll line's value with smart additions, branding and packaging.
MGA said Tuesday's decision was vindication in the long-running case.
“This jury found there was no guilt,” MGA's CEO Larian said.
The amount of damages turned on the question of whether jurors believed MGA should be held responsible only for profits derived from the first four Bratz dolls – which came from Bryant's drawings – or from subsequent Bratz dolls and related products.
The four original dolls made just $4 million in profit their first year and represent only 2.5 percent of MGA's entire Bratz revenue, said Raoul Kennedy, one of MGA's attorneys.
In the past seven years, MGA has built the brand to include more than 40 characters and expanded it with spin-offs such as Bratz Babyz, Bratz Petz and , Bratz Boyz and items like helmets, backpacks and bedsheets.
Quinn said MGA owed Mattel for the entire Bratz empire, amounting to at least $1 billion in Bratz profits and interest. Quinn argued that Larian, too, personally gained nearly $800million in stock value and distributions flowing from the success of the dolls.
Bryant, the Bratz designer, settled with Mattel on the eve of trial. The terms have not been made public.