The clock has partially run out on CBS’ legal attempt to stop production and the June 18 premiere of ABC’s new reality series Glass House, which CBS says is a rip-off of Big Brother. Today, a federal judge said he won’t decide until at least June 15 the battling networks’ dispute over the discovery process in the case. This means the time CBS has to look at documents and depositions to find out exactly how much Glass House resembles Big Brother so they can shut it down is very tight. To make matters more pressing for CBS, ABC has already announced the Glass House contestants and plans to offer voting viewers an online look at the house on Saturday. Of course, the plaintiff network isn’t out of options: CBS said in court documents filed yesterday that it will be seeking a temporary restraining order against Glass House while these matters are ongoing. Nothing had been filed as of Tuesday evening.
In his ruling today, Judge John McDermott rejected CBS’ proposed fast-track discovery schedule that sought to have everything wrapped up by 5 PM tomorrow. Instead, the judge adopted a significant portion of the much more lenient timeline proposed by ABC. The ruling gives ABC until June 11 to provide supporting documents and declarations for CBS to examine. Then there are June 12 and June 15 filing deadlines for supplemental material. Then everyone waits, with no idea how long.
CBS filed a multi-million dollar suit on May 10 against ABC, Disney, Keep Calm and Carry On Productions and several former Big Brother producers. It cited copyright infringement, trade-secret misappropriation, unfair competition, breach of contract and conspiracy among other claims. ABC counter-filed, saying it believed there was “no merit” to CBS’ lawsuit. Since then, with the exception of a June 3 deposition, the networks have been locked in legal trench warfare — an approach CBS calls “ABC’s run-out-the-clock strategy.”
CBS is represented by Scott Edelman, Michael Seitz, Theane Evangelis Kapur and Blaine Evanson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. ABC is represented by Glenn Pomerantz, Jonathan Altman and Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke of Munger, Tolles & Olson.