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Barbie Wants Nearly $2 Billion In Bratz Dispute

Millions of dollars are at stake in Mattel's copyright infringement case after a jury ruled Bratz dolls designer came up with the concept while working for Mattel.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) -- Grown men argued over dolls for six hours as they wrapped up a federal trial pitting the maker of the pouty-lipped Bratz dolls against the house of Barbie -- a lawsuit that could cost upstart MGA Entertainment Inc. up to $2 billion.

Millions of dollars are at stake in Mattel Inc.'s copyright infringement case, but in the trial's final hours lawyers instead asked jurors to think like children and sparred over the placement of beauty moles and the plumpness of glossy, heart-shaped lips.

The jury ruled last month in the trial's first phase that the dolls' designer, Carter Bryant, came up with the Bratz concept while working for Mattel. The jury also found that Los Angeles-based MGA aided in the breach of contract, and its chief executive, Isaac Larian, played a role in the deal.

The case went to the jury late Wednesday and deliberations will begin Thursday afternoon. Jurors must decide what, if any, damages they should award Mattel and whether they should also award unspecified punitive damages.

Earlier Wednesday, in his closing arguments, Mattel attorney John Quinn said MGA owed Mattel at least $1 billion in Bratz profits and interest, while Larian owed nearly $800 million for his complicity.

Quinn said that the four original Bratz dolls were virtually identical to Bryant's conceptual sketches and that all other Bratz-related products -- and their profits -- also belonged to Mattel.

He flipped through photos of Bryant's drawings and compared them to the packaged Bratz dolls that debuted in 2001. He pointed out nearly identical outfits, similar backpacks and a tiny mole that appeared on one doll's cheek in the drawing and on the final product.

"The only question is, is the finished product when it comes to market substantially similar to the original drawing?" he said. "You have to judge this not from the standpoint of a professional (doll) sculptor ... but from the standpoint of a child. That's the law."

MGA attorneys countered that the jury should award Mattel as little as $30 million because MGA had built the doll line's value with smart additions, branding and packaging.

MGA attorney Thomas Nolan said the company made crucial decisions about the Bratz look that weren't included in Bryant's specs. Without the changes, Bratz would have been a bust, he said.

"The evidence is uncontroverted that the drawings portray older, edgier, sexier dolls," he said. "The eyebrows were way too aggressive, the lips way too pronounced, the face way too harsh. What (MGA) made is a prettier doll that could compete."

The original four dolls expanded to nearly 40 Bratz characters, MGA said, and that drove sales among girls who had to have the latest model.

Attorney Raoul Kennedy, representing MGA, mocked the idea that a little girl would be content with just the first doll inspired by Bryant's original sketches and not later characters developed by MGA's team.

"Can you see a parent saying to their child, 'Why do you want that? You have a 'substantially similar' doll back home," Kennedy said.

He noted the four original Bratz dolls brought a combined $81 million in revenue, while a later-generation theme doll called Bratz Play Sportz brought in $73 million alone.

"Something else is going on besides Mattel's property in contributing to sales," Kennedy said. "Themes make a difference."

Quinn, however, said MGA had never had a hit toy before Bratz and lost more than $6 million in 2000, the year before the line of saucy dolls came on the market with their "anime-style" eyes and revealing outfits.

MGA has since made profits of nearly $778 million on Bratz, which exploded in popularity among "tweens" -- girls 7 to 12, he said. The highly stylized fashion dolls have oversized feet, heads and hands, curling lashes and huge, almond-shaped eyes daubed with exotic-colored eyeshadow.

Sales of Barbie, a near right-of-passage in American girlhood, have slid since Bratz's Yasmin, Cloe, Jade and Sasha came on the scene seven years ago. Since then, MGA has introduced a number of spin-offs and related products, including Bratz Boyz, Bratz Petz and Baby Bratz, as well as glitzy outfits and accessories that go with each character.

Domestic sales of Barbie were down 15 percent in 2007 and 12 percent in the first quarter of 2008, while international sales increased 6 percent in 2008 as opposed to 12 percent the previous year.

"In history, there have only been two successful fashion dolls -- Barbie and Bratz -- and Mr. Larian and Mr. Bryant stole one of those," Quinn said. "The numbers are what they are ... and the law says when you profit by taking someone else's confidential information, you have to give it back."

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