Fee Dispute Hotline
(312) 907-7275

Assisting with High-Stakes Attorney Fee Disputes


News Blog

Mattel Challenges Largest Copyright Fee Award in U.S. History

June 4, 2012 | Posted in :

A recent NLJ story, “Mattel Argues Huge Bratz Award was Built Upon Errors,” reports that the $310 million judgment against Mattel, Inc. in its long-running litigation against Bratz doll maker MGA Entertainment Inc. should be revered because it was based on inaccurate damages calculations and erroneous billing invoices from 11 law firms, Mattel argued in its latest appellate filing. 

The judgment includes nearly $140 million in attorney fees and costs, all but $2.5 million of which were related to MGA’s defense against claims that it infringed on Mattel’s copyright by hiring away the Bratz doll’s designer.  Mattel’s reply, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sets the stage for oral arguments on whether the $310 million judgment issued by U.S. District Judge David Carter in Santa Ana should be reversed or remanded for a new trial.

MGA, in opposing Mattel’s brief, said the award was justified against “one of the largest and most aggressively litigated cases ever tried in this Circuit.”  “Mattel launched litigation warfare to obliterate upstart MGA and seize MGA’s competing Bratz brand,” wrote attorney Clifford Sloan, a partner in the Washington office of Skadden Arps.  Sloan argued that the attorney fees and costs paled in comparison to the more than $400 million that Mattel reportedly spent on the litigation, which began in 2004.

In its reply, Mattel challenged the attorney fees, even after Carter subtracted $24 million from a total of $129 million that MGA purportedly spent on defending Mattel’s copyright claims.  “The district court’s mistaken assumption that MGA spent all $129 million on defensive fees infects it entire award,” wrote Kathleen Sullivan, a New York partner at Los Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.  She cited tens of millions in duplicative billings, discounts and work contracted out to other firms.  At a minimum, the fee award should be remanded for recalculation, with Mattel given the chance to review invoices that so far have been redacted, Sullivan wrote.