Looks like the Force is truly strong with this one after all. Star Wars’ Hayden Christensen and his brother Tove were handed a new life yesterday in their suit with USA Network over Royal Pains. The brothers allege that the idea for the USA series was lifted from their much-circulated Housecall show concept and they want to be compensated. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed. “Plaintiffs-Appellant adequately alleged a contract that includes an implied promise to pay. Because this claim is based on rights that are not the equivalent of those protected by the Copyright Act, it is not preempted,” said Judge John Walker. The Judge’s 25-page ruling (Read it here) reversed a federal court dismissal of the case last year on the grounds of copyright outweighing breach of contract allegation Christensen’s Forest Park production company developed their Housecall idea several years ago. Like Royal Pains, which debuted in June 2009, Housecall detailed the exploits of a disgraced doctor who took to privately treating the wealthy. The Christensen’s show took place in Malibu not the Hamptons as the USA Network’s series does, but otherwise the shows are very similar. The brothers met with USA’s Alex Sepiol about Housecall but never had a deal. However those meetings provide the foundation for the Christensen’s breach of implied contract claim. “Because Forest Park has alleged an enforceable implied-in-fact contract including a promise of payment for the disclosure of its idea, its claim is not preempted by the Copyright Act and therefore the district court erred in dismissing the Complaint,” said the Judge yesterday. The case now goes back to lower courts.
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