Barbie v. Bratz: How a Famous Feminist, a Judicial Hottie and Millions in Legal Fees are Producing our Era’s Most Interesting Case about the Ownership of Ideas

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1 Response

  1. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Brilliant writing and analysis, John. Thanks for posting this here.

    Judge Kozinski is also (in)famous for wreaking havoc with the contract law applicable in this case, once claiming that under California law no written contract can ever be so clear on its face to prevent having a trial of the sort he ordered in this case. See Trident Center v. Connecticut Gen. Life Ins. Co., 847 F.2d 564 (9th Cir. 1988).

    Suppose this contract said it covered inventions developed “at any time during my employment by [Mattel], whether morning, noon or night.” Judge Kozinski might think that could exclude inventions developed in the evening and hold a trial on the matter.

    Despite Kozinski, California law bars evidence of such contestable meanings unless the language is “reasonably susceptible” to competing interpretations. See Susan J. Martin, “Yes, Judge Kozinski, There Is A Parol Evidence Rule in California – The Lessons of a Pyrrhic Victory,” vol. 25 Southwestern U. Law Review (1995).

    It’s a shame that who owns and ideas and millions of dollars can depend on what federal judge you get and how that judge construes state law.