Mattel Dodges Antitrust Suit by Bratz Dollmaker

     (CN) – A federal judge has blocked MGA Entertainment, maker of the Bratz doll line, from pursuing antitrust claims alleging that competitor Mattel tried to monopolize the fashion doll market and “kill Bratz.”



     On Aug. 4, 2011, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter awarded MGA $170 million in damages for proving that Mattel copied MGA’s trade-secret packaging. Since MGA had already claimed Mattel had engaged in illegal market research and aggressive litigation tactics in that case from August 2010, however, Carter found that MGA’s later antitrust action was too similar and warranted dismissal under the doctrine of res judicata.
     “All of MGA’s abuse of process claim and a substantial portion of MGA’s antitrust claim rely on defendants’ conduct during and in preparation for litigation prior to August 16, 2010,” Carter wrote. “For example, the gravamen of MGA’s abuse of process claim is that Mattel sought a remedy against MGA that ‘required the district judge to enter a ruling that was an abuse of discretion’ – conduct which occurred prior to August 16, 2010.”
     “Other litigation conduct prior to August 16, 2010, including Mattel’s alleged discovery abuses and disregard for the statute of limitations, comprise a substantial amount of MGA’s antitrust claim,” he continued. “Because the entire abuse of process claim is based on Defendants’ conduct in the prior litigation – conduct which must have occurred before August 16, 2010 – MGA’s current abuse of process claim arises from the same transactional nucleus of facts as MGA’s prior claims.”
     In dismissing the case with leave to amend, Carter also noted that MGA’s antitrust claim “shares a logical relationship with Mattel’s pleadings in the prior litigation.”
     “In its current antitrust claim, MGA alleges that Mattel engaged in misconduct during the prior litigation through discovery abuse, disregard for the statute of limitations, and pursuit of unreasonable injunctive relief,” Carter wrote. “Because both MGA’s current claim and Mattel’s prior claim arise from the parties’ conduct in the prior litigation, MGA’s current claim was compulsory and should have been brought in the prior litigation.”
     MGA has until Nov. 11 to file an amended claim.

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