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MGA Defends $140M Attorney Fee Award

May 2, 2012 | Posted in : Expenses / Costs, Fee Award

A recent NLJ story, “Huge Award was Justified by Mattel’s Scorched-Earth Tactics, MGA Argues” reports that MGA Entertainment Inc. told an appellate court that the $310 million judgment it won against competitor Mattel Inc. in the Bratz doll litigation was justified against “one of the largest and most aggressively litigated cases ever tried in this Circuit.” 

The $310 million judgment included an $85 million verdict, $85 million in exemplary damages, and nearly $140 million in attorney fees and expenses, most of which related to MGA’s successful defense against claims that it infringed on Mattel’s copyright by hiring away the Bratz doll’s designer.  Mattel, in petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, called the judgment “the largest copyright fee award in history.”

Clifford Sloan, a partner in the Washington office of Skadden Arps noted that U.S. District Judge David Carter actually excluded $24 million before awarding the attorney fees and costs related to the copyright claim.  “The amount that the district court awarded, $105.6 million in attorney’s fees and $31.6 million in costs, is a small fraction of what was at stake for MGA in this suit and what the litigation has cost, and it pales in comparison to the more than $400 million that Mattel reportedly spent on its prolonged litigation warfare against MGA,” he wrote.