Bratz Is Like Boeing?

Mattelwants at least $1.8 billion in damages from MGA Entertainment and its CEO. MGA says Mattel deserves no more than $39 million. That's quite a range. Both sides made closing arguments Wednesday in the penalty phase of the Bratz trial. This same jury already ruled MGA's sassy doll line came from drawings by Carter Bryant, who was a Mattel employee at the time he drew the sketches. Therefore, Mattel owns his work.


MGA Entertainment told jurors late today why Mattel isn't owed all the profits from Bratz. Attorney Raul Kennedy says it's like the descendants of the Wright Brothers trying to sue Boeing for all profits from building airplanes.

"Are Carter Bryant's drawings the sole reason why MGA made profits off of Bratz?" Kennedy asked jurors. He says the drawings "didn't turn themselves into dolls and walk down to K-Mart." The drawings were significantly important, MGA argues, but not the whole story in making the dolls successful.

So what does Mattel deserve in damages? As I blogged earlier, Mattel wants at least $1.8 billion, all the profits from the Bratz line.

But MGA argues that later generations of Bratz dolls--which have been more profitable--are significantly different than the drawings, and things like helmets and jumpropes aren't based on sketches. Therefore, they're not based on something owned by Mattel. MGA's Kennedy suggests only the original generation of Bratz dolls are most like the drawings, and they only account for 2.5 percent of Bratz' total revenues to date. That's a mere $78 million, WITH NET PROFITS OF ONLY $4 MILLION. But even if jurors wish to give Mattel some portion of later generation Bratz doll profits and related merchandise, MGA suggests damages range between $30 million to $39 million. That's about 2 percent of the $1.8 billion Mattel wants.

MGA attorney Thomas Nolan hopes to sway the jury by convincing them Mattel was just angry that someone had the "audacity" to take the company on in the marketplace and succeed. Nolan told jurors Mattel reacted by "having the Goliath, Barbie, knock down the only competition in 40 years she's ever had."

Oh yeah, what about Carter Bryant? Mattel settled with him some time ago--terms undisclosed.

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