By PAAIA Editorial Staff
August 1, 2010, Washington, D.C. – On July 22, 2010, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a District Court ruling that awarded Mattel, Inc. ownership of the Bratz product. The ruling is a major turnaround for MGA Entertainment Inc., and its Iranian born CEO and founder, Isaac Larian, in its long running legal battle with Mattel over the fashion doll line.
The decision reversed a 2008 copyright infringement victory for Mattel. The suit alleged that the designer who created the Bratz line was working for Mattel when he conceived the idea and design for the dolls. The ruling gave Mattel ownership over the Bratz dolls. MGA was ordered to transfer all products and assets associated with the Bratz line to Mattel.
MGA appealed the District Court’s decision, leading to a review by the U.S. Court of Appeals.The Ninth circuit ruled the jury verdict and damages awarded should be vacated and that the entire case will likely need to be retried. Specifically, the three-judge panel questioned whether Mattel is entitled to the ideas and drawings of a former employee if they were not part of the scope of his employment.
The Mattel v. MGA case also presented an issue of whether a verdict should be overturned based upon expressed prejudice among jury members during deliberations. In July of 2009, PAAIA along with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), and the Iranian American Jewish Federation (IAJF) filed an amicus brief arguing that bigoted comments made by a juror during deliberations introduced bias in those proceedings and amounted to the denial of a fair trial for the Iranian American defendant.
The District Court found that during jury deliberations, Juror No. 8 explicitly referred to Iranians as people “who are stubborn, rude, and who have stolen other people’s ideas.” The District Judge dismissed the juror but held that the remarks did not affect or influence the decision made by the jury.
While the decision to overturn the verdict was not based on the expressed prejudice during the jury deliberations, PAAIA nonetheless welcomes the appeals court decision. PAAIA is firmly committed to ensuring fair treatment under the law for Iranian Americans, and combating all instances of discrimination against them on the basis of ethnicity, national origin or religion.
Click here to learn more about the appeal ruling over ownership of Bratz Dolls.