Jurors in Bratz case have their work cut out for them
Pity the jurors on the Bratz case.
Now that Mattel and MGA Entertainment have completed their closing arguments in the copyright infringement case, the 12 jurors (plus two alternates) have been holed up in a special deliberation room in federal court in Santa Ana to reach a verdict.
There, in a room reportedly set up like a toy shop, with shelves of dolls and other evidence on display, the jurors are wading through a lengthy 28-page verdict form that includes 23 questions, many of them with secondary questions and complicated charts to fill out involving dolls, sculpts and drawings with codes such as "TX 12286."
"Has Mattel proven that the First Production Sculpt (TX 17732) and/or the Second Production Sculpt (TX 17733) infringed creative works in which Mattel owns a copyright? To determine whether Mattel owns a valid copyright in a particular creative work, refer to your answers in question 1. Yes/No. If you answered 'no' to questions 3 and 4, stop and proceed to Question 7. If you answered 'yes' to either question 3 or question 4, proceed to complete the Chart in Question 5."
At nearly three months, the trial has been a lengthy one, with lawyers for both sides painstakingly recounting their version of the origins of the billion-dollar Bratz franchise, which Mattel alleges was stolen from the company by rival MGA. Before he began his closing statements on Friday, Mattel lawyer Bill Price joked to the jury that he had probably had his eyes closed during the trial longer than all the jurors combined.
During the original trial in 2008, a jury in Riverside sided with Mattel. The company was awarded $100 million in damages, and MGA was ordered to turn over the franchise to Mattel.
The jury's decision was overturned last year by an appeals court, which ruled that MGA deserved "sweat equity" for manufacturing and marketing the dolls.
The case was sent to U.S. District Judge David O. Carter in Santa Ana for retrial. In addition to Mattel's copyright infringement claims, jurors are also being asked to decide whether each company stole trade secrets from the other side.
A verdict is expected to be reached by the end of next week.
-- Andrea Chang
Photo: Two Bratz dolls. Credit: Associated Press