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Judge Declares Loser in 'Biggest Loser' Idea Theft Case

A New York federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against NBC Universal and Reveille that claimed the defendants stole the idea for the hit reality show, The Biggest Loser.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein previously threw out Sonya Latimore's claim for copyright infringement in May 2009, after finding her original written treatment for a weight loss reality television show titled Phat Farm was not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, but merely registered with WGA. However, the judge let Latimore re-plead her breach-of-contract claim, which later led to an analysis of whether Phat Farm was substantially similar to The Biggest Loser. The judge yesterday ruled on summary judgment that he could not find substantial similarity between the two works and therefore dismissed the remaining claim.

In other law news...

  • We may soon find out details about the multi-billion dollar contracts between the National Football League and various television networks. In the midst of negotiating a new labor contract, the player's association is pressing a case that the league signed an underhanded deal with television networks that provided money regardless of a lockout. The NFL yesterday agreed to unseal parts of some documents, which include the decision, media contracts, deposition transcripts and numerous league-wide debt contracts. [SBD]
  • American Idol held its annual behind-closed-doors competition for contestants to pick which lawyers will be representing them in contract negotiations with producers. The winning lawyers were Craig Marshall and Gary L. Gilbert of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. [TMZ]
  • A dispute has broken out among members of Third Eye Blind about who authored the band's chart-topping hits. Tony Fredianelli, the group's original lead guitarist, is suing the band and lead singer Stephan Jenkins, seeking a judicial declaration over his alleged co-authorship. [Here's the complaint]
  • One would think that a website housing the scores of Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, and other classical legends would be free from copyright trouble as these works are in the public domain. But the International Music Score Library Project is contending with messy copyright issues and the ire of established publishers. [NYT]
  • Former Walt Disney Co. administrative assistant Bonnie Hoxie will serve four months home detention after admitting last year to engaging in a scheme with her then-boyfriend to sell early access to the company’s earnings. [WSJ]
  • Dennis Hopper is the latest celebrity to get trademarked. The estate of the late actor filed a trademark registration last week on "Dennis Hopper." We understand why the estate wants to protect his mark when it comes to motorcycles, but how about the claimed goods and service: "Perfumery; fragranced products including cologne, aftershave lotion, body soap, toilet soap, body lotions, skin creams and hand lotion; soaps; cosmetics; toiletries; sun block; personal deodorants"?