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Mattel seeks nearly $2 billion in damages from Bratz maker

August 21, 2008|From the Associated Press

The maker of pouty-lipped Bratz dolls owes toy giant Mattel Inc. nearly $2 billion for stealing its conceptual drawings for the urban-themed toys, a Mattel attorney said Wednesday during closing arguments in the damages phase of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

The jury ruled last month in the first phase of the federal trial that the designer of MGA Entertainment Inc.'s Bratz dolls, Carter Bryant, came up with the concept while working for Mattel.

The jury also found that Los Angeles-based MGA aided in the breach of contract, and its chief executive, Isaac Larian, played a role in the deal.

In his closing arguments, Mattel attorney John Quinn said MGA owed Mattel at least $1 billion in Bratz profit and interest, while Larian owed nearly $800 million for his complicity.

"I'm well aware that the numbers we're talking about here are very substantial," Quinn told jurors.

Quinn said MGA had never had a hit toy and had lost more than $6 million in 2000, the year before the Bratz dolls and their midriff-baring outfits came on the market.

MGA has since made profit of nearly $778 million on Bratz, which exploded in popularity among tweens -- girls 7 to 12, he said. The highly stylized fashion dolls have oversized feet, heads and hands, curling lashes and huge, almond-shaped eyes daubed with exotic-colored eye shadow.

"In history, there have only been two successful fashion dolls -- Barbie and Bratz -- and Mr. Larian and Mr. Bryant stole one of those," Quinn said. "The numbers are what they are . . . and the law says when you profit by taking someone else's confidential information, you have to give it back."

MGA attorney Thomas Nolan told jurors in his closing argument to make the distinction between the concept drawings and the final toys on store shelves. MGA made crucial decisions about the Bratz look that weren't included in Bryant's specs, he said.

"The evidence is uncontroverted that the drawings portray older, edgier, sexier dolls," he said. "The eyebrows were way too aggressive, the lips way too pronounced, the face way too harsh. What [MGA] made is a prettier doll that could compete."

Nolan also argued that profit from Bratz increased dramatically over the years, as MGA adapted its look and introduced new hair and makeup.

"They want it all," he said of Mattel. "They want every dollar."

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