CBS smacked ABC with a juicy lawsuit recently. The folks behind Big Brother claim that ABC's new TV offering, Life in a Glass House, is too much like their summer mega-hit, houseguest based reality show. The charge is that trade secrets have been exposed and used, plus a copyright on the formula of the show has been violated.
CBS hopes to smash Glass House before it airs, but ABC says there are "obvious differences" as well as "new technologies" that make the reality show not at all like Big Brother. Okay, but like you would make the show exactly the same anyway, ABC.
19 staff and counting
A seemingly huge point in CBS' favor though is not only is the basic premise of ABC's new show pretty much like Big Brother, 19 former Big Brother employees are now working on Glass House. On the surface anyway, this seems to substantiate CBS' concerns about show secrets leaking out and that seems like a crazy amount of ex-employees to be a mere coincidence. We're talking producers too, not like make up artists.
According to CBS, an ABC executive purposely gave orders for as many ex-Big Brother staff members to be hired as possible. It makes me wonder too, why all of these workers left Big Brother and why they wanted to work over on Glass House to risk breaking their non-disclosure clause.
Making a federal case out of it
The case between the two networks and the two reality shows is actually a federal one. CBS hopes to get an injunction to halt the production and airing of Glass House. As someone who once considered going into entertainment law (but, to do that you actually have to tear yourself away from the TV!) I'd love to be a courtroom regular watching this case unfold. It's copyright infringement if CBS is right and fair competition if ABC is shown to be correct.
CBS is calling ABC's behavior a "blatant theft" as well as an "unfair competition." ABC stands firm in that its show has a lot of different components, while CBS contends that Glass House has "nearly identical, protectable elements" to Big Brother. A federal judge is going to have to decide whether or not CBS deserves monetary damages - which could be several million dollars - as well as the right to shut down the competing network's show.
Let the network wars begin! What do you think about the case?