While buying a present for my son recently at a local surf-and-skate shop, I decided to check out the current crop of skateboard decks. For those not into skating (or who don’t have kids into skating), the underside of boards — you know, the part that no one will ever see if you are actually riding the board successfully — have striking graphics that are a big part of why you choose, and how much you pay for, a particular board. (Well that makes perfect sense — you’re welcome, fellow confused parents.)

One deck immediately stood out: a drawing of E.T. and Michael Jackson in an embrace, below the caption “Alien vs. Predator.”

The board is pretty hilarious, but also risky. Because I am a lawyer, and because lawyers must check their unfettered-by-legal-obsession senses of humor at the law school gate, I couldn’t help thinking about numerous potential legal claims that several plaintiffs might be able to bring.
Continue Reading Who Should Be More Upset, the Alien or the Predator?

I refuse to buy my daughters Bratz dolls. It’s not so much that I don’t want to encourage them to wear makeup or become streetwalkers. It’s more that I don’t want to give rival toy companies Mattel and MGA Entertainment an incentive to spend even more money fighting about the fate of these “girls with a passion for fashion.”

By most accounts, each side has spent well over $100 million dollarsso far in legal fees arguing about whether Mattel is entitled to share in the success of MGA’s Bratz dolls, which were allegedly created by MGA designer Carter Bryant while he was still employed by Mattel. (Just to demonstrate how incredible this is, imagine you were a mid-level associate billing out at $350 per hour, working on the case for 10 hours a day, 363 days a year — we’ll give you Christmas and your birthday off. At this frenetic pace of 3,630 hours per year, it would take you over 75 years to bill $100 million in fees. Only have five years? Just enlist the help of 15 colleagues working the same grueling schedule the entire time.)

At first, this may have seemed like money well-spent for Mattel, whose victory at trial in 2008 resulted in an award of $100 million in damages and a sweeping injunction preventing its biggest competitor from producing or selling virtually every Bratz doll on the market. But the bargain quickly soured for Mattel. First, its awards were promptly stayed pending MGA’s appeal. And late last month, those awards were vacated entirely as the Ninth Circuit’s Chief Judge Alex Kozinski gutted virtually every aspect of the trial court’s ruling.

Let’s survey the carnage:
Continue Reading $100 Million Doesn’t Go As Far As It Used To