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Jury finds for Mattel in Bratz case

BY CSA STAFF

RIVERSIDE, Calif. A California jury found in favor of Mattel in a case to determine the ownership of the $1 billion-plus Bratz doll franchise.

The main question was whether the creator of the dolls, Carter Bryant, made his original drawings while he was under contract as a Barbie designer at Mattel, or whether he created the Bratz dolls during an eight-month hiatus from the company in 1998.

Mattel’s ownership was contested by MGA Entertainment, which lost the rights to all drawings and “sculpts” of the Bratz dolls. However, MGA can still contest in the damages phase of the trial, which begins July 23, that Mattel has no rights to the actual dolls because they are different from Bryant’s original drawings and were made by MGA designers.

The jury also found that MGA ceo Isaac Larian had interfered with Mattel’s contract with Bryant and that both he and MGA Entertainment were liable for “conversion,” or industrial theft.

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Blockbuster appoints vp of Studio Relations, New Media

BY CSA STAFF

DALLAS Blockbuster has appointed Jeffrey Calman to the newly-created position of vp of Studio Relations and New Media. Calman comes with an extensive background in content licensing and acquisition, digital content distribution and digital rights management. He will lead Blockbuster’s efforts to acquire digital content.

Calman spent more than 20 years at Warner Bros., most recently as evp of video on demand (VOD) and electronic sell-through (EST) in the company’s home video division. He oversaw the domestic sales, marketing and finance staffs responsible for the creation, structuring and implementation of Warner Home Video’s VOD, digital VOD and EST activities, as well as managed the studio’s digital rights management, anti-piracy and technology policies. Calman also served in a variety of other management positions, including senior vp for domestic cable distribution, New York, where he negotiated distribution deals with pay-TV and cable networks, and managed business affairs and content acquisition.

Most recently, Calman headed up his own digital programming and distribution consulting firm and worked with a variety of clients, including Genius Products, The Weinstein Co. and ViewNow. He has also been involved with the development of a performing arts TV network and, earlier in his career, represented numerous European and Japanese media companies in their U.S. licensing, acquisition and marketing efforts.

“Jeff’s extensive background in all aspects of the acquisition and distribution of entertainment content, his understanding of new media technology, his studio-side experience and his business acumen should greatly contribute to our efforts to position Blockbuster as a leading provider of digital content,” said Joyce Woodward, Blockbuster senior vp of film. “We are delighted to welcome him to Blockbuster and to this new position.”

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AEO wins preliminary injunction against Payless regarding trademark infringement

BY CSA STAFF

PITTSBURGH American Eagle Outfitters today announced that it won a preliminary injunction against Payless ShoeSource in a trademark infringement and unfair competition lawsuit regarding Payless’ use of the American Eagle mark for a line of footwear and handbags. The ruling means that Payless will have to adopt a clear disclaimer that American Eagle by Payless is not affiliated with American Eagle Outfitters to avoid further customer confusion.

“We’re pleased with the court’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction against Payless,” said Neil Bulman, vp and general counsel for American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. “Our ultimate goal is to stop Payless from misleading and confusing consumers and to protect the integrity of our brand.”

AEO contends that Payless is deceiving consumers by portraying itself as the owner of “the youth fashion brand American Eagle” and indicating that it is selling genuine AEO merchandise when it actually is not. AEO shoes and handbags are available exclusively at AEO stores and on www.ae.com.

Additionally, Payless is marketing American Eagle shoes and accessories with advertising and promotional materials that copy the look and feel of AEO’s marketing style and falsely claim to be the exclusive source of American Eagle and AE “women’s,” “men’s” and “accessories.”

The April 2007 suit was filed in United States District Court Eastern District of New York.

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