ABC has just filed its opposition to CBS’ request for a temporary restraining order that would halt production on the reality show Glass House and prevent its June 18 premiere, for which ABC says it has already spent over $16 million in marketing. (You can read the filing here.) On May 10, CBS sued ABC and several former Big Brother employees who now work on Glass House over the ABC reality series. The lawsuit alleges copyright infringement, with the new series called a blatant rip-off of Big Brother, trade-secret misappropriation, unfair competition, breach of contract and conspiracy among other claims. With the discovery stage of the proceeding dragging on, CBS last week filed a petition for a temporary restraining order.
In its opposition today, ABC asks the court to deny CBS’ application. The network argues that “CBS’s copyright claim will not succeed” as “none of the alleged similarities shared by Big Brother and The Glass House involve copyright protectable elements — they are all generic staples of the reality show genre: people living in a house, competing with each other to avoid elimination, and winning a prize. Nor is the sequence and arrangement of these unprotectable elements the same in Big Brother and The Glass House, foreclosing the possibility of infringement.” Addressing the rest of the CBS claims, ABC says that “there was no conspiracy to hire away Big Brother employees” and “that here is no ‘secret sauce’ in Big Brother’s production process” that could’ve been misappropriated.
ABC also argues that it would be the side that would suffer real hardship if CBS’ RTO request is granted. “It would cause significant harm if this Court postponed (Glass House) after voting for contestants by the public has already commenced, after ABC spent $16 million to promote a June 18 premiere, and after ABC gave The Glass House prime real estate in ABC’s summer schedule after The Bachelorette,” the opposition says. “A temporary restraining order, even for a week, would seriously undermine the show’s potential success.”
Sources tell Deadline that CBS expects to respond to ABC’s opposition filing within 24 hours. With the countdown on for Glass House’s debut, CBS hopes to have a hearing on the matter by the end of the week.
Since CBS filed its suit on May 10, which ABC quickly dismissed as having “no merit,” the two networks have been in a legal cage fight over the reality series. On Friday, less than 24 hours after CBS filed their TRO application, Judge Gary Feess ruled in favor of CBS’ desire for a fast-tracked TRO process. Separately, another judge approved most of ABC’s expedited discovery process schedule, with no court ruing expect there until after June 15. CBS conducted a long deposition with former Big Brother producer Kenny Rosen. In their June 7 TRO application, CBS cited the deposition as proof of their claims of breach of NDA, copyright infringement and trade-secret misappropriation.
While this has been going on, ABC announced the Glass House contestants and has been promoting the debut of the viewer-driven voting show on an interactive website. The cast has moved into the Glass House and filming on the show has begun. 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.