With the June 18 premiere date for ABC’s new reality series Glass House looming, the legal scuffle over it between CBS and ABC has intensified. CBS at midnight filed a request for a temporary restraining order against ABC trying to block the Glass House debut after a judge-approved schedule for the discovery stage of the proceedings made a ruling before the Glass House premiere highly unlikely. CBS filed the lawsuit against ABC last month, claiming Glass House was a copycat of its own Big Brother, and it is being made by former Big Brother producers using know-how they’ve acquired on Big Brother that is protected by non-disclosure agreements. This morning, ABC responded to CBS’ filing with a motion that opposes CBS’ TRO request. It calls CBS’ proposed TRO schedule — which asks for TRO proceedings to begin immediately, with ABC responding by noon on Monday and CBS replying the following day so the court could render a decision by June 18 — “ridiculous” and asks the court to reject it. ABC argues that “CBS has made its own bed by stubbornly refusing to negotiate a reasonable schedule and instead engaging in scorched-earth litigation tactics.” In its filing, ABC also addresses the copyright claim by CBS, bringing up CBS’ 2003 unsuccessful lawsuit against ABC over I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, which CBS argued was an offshoot of its Survivor. “Plaintiffs have claimed copyright in reality show formats for years and always lost — because the stock elements, generic ideas, and scenes a faire that they have repeatedly sought to copyright are not protectable,” ABC argues. “In the latest example of this argument, CBS says that Glass House infringes on its supposed copyright license in the idea of 14 people living in a house, competing with each other, and voting each other out of the house. But there can be no copyright license in what has become a generic idea, and the law bars CBS’ claims today, just as it did 10 years ago.”
On the opposite side of the argument, CBS today issued a statement regarding its filing from last night. “The public announcements from ABC and their producers own testimony about ‘Glass House’ clearly point to a program that will replicate virtually every element of BIG BROTHER. And, the deposition testimony included in our court filing today further demonstrates the brazen lengths that former BIG BROTHER producers have gone to use confidential material, obtained while under our employment, to develop this new show.” According to sources, CBS still intends to pursue legal cases against the individual former Big Brother producers working on Glass House for allegedly breaching their Big Brother confidentiality agreements.
The highest-profile among them is Glass House executive producer Kenny Rosen, whose deposition was widely quoted in CBS’ filing last night. “CBS first tried to intimidate me and then sued me for agreeing to work for a competing network,” he said in a statement tday. “What CBS is doing is wrong on many levels and I look forward to our day in Court.”