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$1 Billion Demand in Bratz vs. Barbie Fight

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A new round began Monday in the Bratz vs. Barbie dollmaker fight, as MGA Entertainment (Bratz) demanded $1 billion from Mattel (Barbie) in a lawsuit alleging corporate spying.

MGA asked for a jury trial and $1 billion in damages for misappropriation of trade secrets, in a 41-page complaint in Superior Court.

The request for a retrial is the latest salvo in decade-long legal fight over rights to Bratz, the skinny teenage dolls with big heads and lips.

The 9th Circuit last year wiped out MGA's $172 million judgment against Mattel, prompting MGA to move the case from federal to state court.

MGA's claims of theft of trade secrets was "not logically related" to Mattel's claim that its former employee Carter Bryant still worked for Mattel when he showed MGA a concept that spawned the Bratz brand, the court ruled early last year.

Leaving a $137.2 million award for legal costs intact, the 9th Circuit ruled that MGA's claim - involving evidence that Mattel had sent spies to toy fairs to gather information about MGA dolls before they hit stores - should never have reached the jury.

In its new lawsuit, filed Monday, MGA claims the 9th Circuit ruling covered a "technical procedural issue having nothing to do with the merits of the claims."

Attorneys amassed 11.5 million pages of discovery during nine years of litigation, MGA says in its new complaint. Therefore, MGA claims, the court has all it needs to grant a retrial on its claim for trade secret misappropriation.

MGA claims that Mattel's "corporate spies" were given an 11-page "'how to steal'" manual and used fake business cards printed at Kinko's before infiltrating private MGA showrooms with video cameras.

"This has been one of the most heavily contested trade secret cases in American legal history," the lawsuit says.

Mattel spokesman Alan Hilowitz called MGA's "stale claims" untimely, saying they should be dismissed like the verdict was last January.

"We are confident that the same stale claims brought in MGA's lawsuit today are barred by the statute of limitations, and we look forward to the speedy and final resolution of this dispute," Hilowitz wrote in an email.

MGA seeks $1 billion in general and actual damages.

It is represented by Jennifer Keller with Keller Rackauckas of Irvine.

Neither Mattel nor MGA immediately responded to requests for comment.

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