A federal jury ruled yesterday that Mattel does not own the Bratz dolls IP and the company must pay $88.5 million to MGA Entertainment.
The long-running dispute (seven years and counting - Mattel is expected to push for a new trial) centers around whether creator Carter Bryant worked on the Bratz dolls idea while employed by Mattel, with whom Bryant signed an invention agreement in 1999.
How does this apply to writing?
In short: know your contracts, folks. Also, doing work for yourself while you're on the clock is a bad, bad idea. Even though, as things stand now, the jury ruled that Mattel doesn't own the copyright, this is the third ruling on the suit, and Mattel did win one of those. Mattel is also rumored to have spent $400 million on the ongoing litigation.
Do you have $400 million? I sure as hell don't.