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Ubisoft Wins 'Bratz' Licensing Dispute

by Rainier on Feb. 12, 2008 @ 8:51 a.m. PST

Ubisoft has obtained a $13.2 million judgment in a copyright and trademark infringement dispute against Bratz dolls owner MGA Entertainment.

"We are thrilled with the result, and we feel completely vindicated,” said Ubisoft’s General Counsel Cecile Russeil. “We could not have achieved this outcome without attorneys who mastered every aspect of the case, and thoroughly understood our video gaming business.”

In 2002, Ubisoft entered into a license with MGA to publish video games based on the Bratz dolls. Due to the increasing popularity of the dolls, MGA sought to force a renegotiation of the license in 2003 by terminating the license without cause and on pretextual grounds. When Ubisoft refused to give in to MGA’s bad faith demands, MGA sued. Ubisoft counter-sued, alleging that MGA’s termination of the license was invalid and a breach of contract.

In an effort to justify its wrongful termination, MGA sought to place at issue every aspect of Ubisoft’s handling of the Bratz license, which required the legal team to become intimately familiar with Ubisoft’s development, manufacturing, marketing and sales operations.

“Our relationship with Ubisoft went far beyond the normal lawyer-client relationship,” said Smith, who chairs Greenberg Glusker’s Litigation Group and who was lead counsel in the matter. “We effectively became an extension of our client, learning everything about Ubisoft’s business from its most senior management.”

The arbitrator ruled in favor of Ubisoft, awarding it $13 million in lost profits damages, attorney’s fees and interest, and rejecting all of MGA’s claims. After the arbitration award was confirmed by the Los Angeles Superior Court, MGA stipulated to entry of judgment in the amount of $13.2 million.

“This arbitration was a textbook example of effective cooperation between an internal legal team and its outside counsel,” said lead Ubisoft in-house counsel Virginie Gringarten. “We are extremely pleased with the results.”

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