IP Law for Startups Blog on Bratz vs. Barbie IP Dispute

February 15th, 2010

I recently started reading Jill Hubbard Bowman’s excellent IP Law for Startups blog.  I don’t practice IP law, but a lot of the work I do touches on intellectual property issues so I find her posts helpful and illuminating.

The “moonlighting” problem is pernicious for startup entrepreneurs.  It can take months or years to nurture an idea to the point where it can pay a salary, so it is natural for many people to chip away at their plans while earning a paycheck somewhere else.  The problem is that if their idea is closely related to their day job activities, and if they are not extraordinarily careful to avoid using work resources for the side project, then their employer can claim ownership of the new business ideas.

Jill has a great example up on her blog based on the Bratz dolls.  You should click through to read the whole thing (and subscribe to the blog), but some key facts include:

* $1 billion in claimed damages

* $100 million in legal fees for defendants MGA Entertainment, Inc. and Carter Bryant.

Ouch.

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