Troll Company, the Danish owner of the rights to the iconic Good Luck Troll doll, has filed a $20 million lawsuit against brand management company DIC Ent. In a lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court, Troll Company charged that DIC fraudulently obtained licensing rights to the Troll by hiding its true financial condition and then conducted such a disastrously underfunded roll-out that the Troll was transformed from a "multi-billion dollar renowned property" into one that was unmarketable.
"This case is really very simple," said Troll Company attorney Patricia L. Glaser, of Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro, LLP, Los Angeles. "It alleges a deliberate fraud, perpetrated by a company that was in dire financial straits and desperate to find a source of fast cash, to deceive Troll Company into licensing away the precious rights to one of the most famous toys in the world."
The action follows DIC's own $20 million lawsuit filed last week alleging that the Troll Company assured DIC that they had been vigilant in stamping out any counterfeits and other infringing products and that they were not aware of any infringement, when in fact they knew that the doll was the subject of widespread infringement, with unauthorized sales of counterfeit trolls persisting on a global scale.
In the complaint filed today, Troll Company contends that when DIC made its approach, Troll Company was just completing its long legal battle to regain sole ownership of the Troll in the U.S. DIC held itself out as one of the largest and most successful animation companies in the world with sufficient financial resources to restore the Troll to its former glory. But, the complaint states, the truth was that DIC in fact was losing millions of dollars a year and teetering on the brink of financial collapse, facts which DIC "cynically concealed" from Troll Company.
Moreover, the complaint continues, while continuing to pursue the original Good Luck Troll, DIC convinced Troll Company to give it the rights to create a derivative property called Trollz, which DIC said would involve a cutting-edge web site, television series and merchandizing that would maximize the eventual commercial exploitation of the Good Luck Troll. But, says the complaint, DIC's real intention was "to devote its limited resources to the marketing of the derivative Trollz property, which DIC owned. As for the Good Luck Troll, DIC's main interest was not for a source of revenue for either itself or Troll Company, but rather to eliminate a potentially competing 'troll' property from the marketplace and thus give DIC's Trollz a clear field."
The lawsuit seeks damages of $20 million in addition to disgorgement of "all amounts by which DIC has been unjustly enriched." The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages, as well as a permanent injunction to prohibit DIC from any further exploitation of both the Trollz derivative work and the Good Luck Troll character.