Bratz jury asks if can split decision on copyright

RIVERSIDE, California (Reuters) - A California jury considering awarding damages to Mattel Inc in a trial against MGA Entertainment Inc over the Bratz doll line on Friday asked a question suggesting they might find copyright infringement for early dolls but not later ones.

“Can we find that the first generation dolls violate copyright but the second generation do not?” the jury asked in a note to the court.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson responded that the jury could split its decision in that way.

The jury also asked a question for which Larson requested clarification. “Our dilemma: appropriation of first generation is $4 M in profits,” the jury wrote.

The questions hinted at possible damages in the case, where Mattel has argued that MGA and its chief executive, Isaac Larian should surrender nearly $2 billion in profits as well as pay punitive damages.

The nine-member panel in Riverside, California, ended its first full day of deliberations in the closely watched case without reaching a verdict, saying it was “struggling” over how to begin awarding damages against MGA and Larian.

“What are the options regarding a starting point, if any, with respect to damages?” the jury asked in a second note later on Friday. “In reference to question 1 (on the 9-page verdict form), we are struggling at this point.”

Jury deliberations were scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

Reporting by Syantani Chatterjee, editing by Peter Henderson, Gunna Dickson and Carol Bishopric