Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Inkboy Might Take Note...

An interesting lawsuit has been settled today. It seems that Mattel Toys won 100 million dollars from MGA Entertainment Inc. and designer Carter Bryant for copyright infringement on the Bratz line of toys.

Now I hate Bratz. It troubles me that the line of toys are as popular as they are, especially the Baby Bratz line. Way too creepy. Someone else felt the same way, Mattel Toys. It seems that when Carter Bryant proposed the idea to his employer Mattel, they turned him down. He left Mattel soon after while working for MGA he presented the Bratz idea to them and they went with it.

Soon the Bratz line would explode in popularity and take on its main rival Mattel's Barbie dolls in toy sales. I guess that was too much for Mattel and they sued. They felt they were entitled to over a billion dollars and more because Carter Bryant came up with the concept while working at Mattel.

That's just pure greed. They didn't take a chance on Carter's idea. I get the feeling that if Bratz had been put out by Mattel, Carter Bryant would not be a billionaire, but somehow they think they should get a billion dollars.

I wonder when Carter came up with his idea? Did he come up with the sketches at work? Or was he at a club for underage teenagers? Maybe that club should get the money. Or maybe he got the idea from his daughter. Maybe she should get the money.

Anyway, the nerve. I wonder if he got fired from Mattel. I mean, he had a winning idea. Mattel rejected it. They should get no profits. They should only get compensated for the time he took to do the drawings on Mattel's time. It would not amount to more than a few thousand dollars.

This sets a dangerous precedence, for people who create works of art presented to employers. My friend works in animation. He has worked on his own projects. His employer is not distributing the work. What if he gets a contract with another animation company and it becomes a huge success? Could the other company take him to court?

This makes me nervous. It could happen in restaurants too. What if I was to open a restaurant and used my own recipes I tried out for specials at another restaurant? It's scary to think of the implications.


AlNickerson said...
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AlNickerson said...

Ink-Boy is taking note (although, I don’t know why I should be, exactly). Still, this is interesting. It looks like this case comes down to contracts. Was Carter Bryant under exclusive contract with Mattel when he came up with the idea of Bratz? Was Bratz created in-house at Mattel? If so, then Mattel might have a case. If not, then Mattel is acting in a greedy (as Scan has mentioned) and evil manner.

Sorta reminds you of the problems with the ownership of Superman, doesn’t it? In the beginning, two kids from Cleveland couldn’t sell their "Superman" creation to any syndicate or publisher. Eventually, (what became) DC Comics published ACTION COMICS #1, made tons of dough, and then fired Superman’s creators.

Anyway, my philosophy has always remained: "Never sign away anything that you own, and don’t sign any stupid contracts."

If you retain copyright (and possibly trademark) of your intellectual property and do not sign any silly contracts when pitching your intellectual property, then you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your intellectual property.