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There was a recent summary judgment decision in the Mattel v. MGA Entertainment case (otherwise known as Barbie vs. Bratz), but nothing much notable on the ownership front. As it last stood, the Court of Appeals remanded the issue of ownership of the “Bratz” and “Jade” trademarks to the district court. Whether the names should be owned by Mattel or MGA turned on interpretation of the designer’s employment agreement with Mattel, specifically whether a trademark could be an “idea” as the term was used in the agreement. The court of appeals found the contract ambiguous and told the district court to consider extrinsic evidence. On summary judgment, the district court, surprise, surprise, could find for neither party on summary judgment.
On copyright, Mattel owns the copyright in the designer’s original work but MGA is partially home-free on infringement; the jury will decide infringement on only the first generation dolls and a couple others. The rest are not infringing.
There’s a heck of a trade secret dispute going on too, but I couldn’t bring myself to plow through that part of the 117-page decision. Happy reading.
The Telegraph reports that jury selection has already begun and the trial to start January 18.
Mattel, Inc. v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., No. CV 04-9049 DOC (C.D. Calif. Dec. 27, 2010).