Former Mattel employee pleads guilty to copying company documents
A former Mattel Inc. employee pleaded guilty in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday to copying confidential company documents and records after he had accepted a job at rival toy maker MGA Entertainment Inc.
As part of the plea deal, Jorge Castilla, 34, will be placed on probation for three years, spend 30 days in county jail or serve 120 hours of structured community service, turn over all Mattel property in his possession and be required to pay back more than $21,000. He was sentenced by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Horwitz.
According to a court filing, Castilla was working at Mattel when he was offered a job at MGA, the maker of the Bratz dolls at the heart of a years-long feud between the two companies.
"After accepting such employment, defendant Castilla accessed the databases and systems of Mattel and digitally copied proprietary and confidential documents and records belonging to Mattel to a file on his shared drive," the filing said. "The day before he resigned, he came in on a Sunday and copied the files to a portable storage device. This copying was not done for any Mattel work purpose, and was done without authorization."
The filing said that El Segundo-based Mattel detected the breach and investigated.
Mattel and Van Nuys-based MGA will face off in court again during the Bratz retrial scheduled to begin Jan. 18. The trial is expected to last four months and will center on whether MGA infringed Mattel's copyrights and stole trade secrets from the company. After a trial jury ruled in Mattel's favor in 2008, an appeals court overturned the ruling last year.
Mattel alleges that Bratz creator Carter Bryant was in Mattel's employ when he worked on early versions of the sexily dressed, multiethnic dolls.
-- Andrea Chang