June 11, 2012 6:20pm PT by Alex Ben Block
ABC Files Detailed Opposition to CBS Request for 'Glass House' Injunction
ABC has filed a lengthy opposition brief in response to CBS' effort to stop the upcoming reality series Glass House, which CBS argues is too similar to its long-running hit Big Brother.
The court filing, which was expected, comes as CBS is asking a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order against the ABC series, which is set to premiere on June 18. CBS will file a reply brief in the next day or so, according to sources, and U.S. District Judge Gary Fees will rule on whether Glass House can air as planned.
This is the latest volley in the battle over the ABC reality series. CBS has said that Glass House is so similar to its Big Brother that it infringes on its copyright. CBS has also pointed out that the showrunner on Glass House, Kenny Rosen, formerly was a producer on Big Brother, and Rosen testified in a deposition that he used secrets he learned on Big Brother in his new job.
But ABC says in its response to the TRO request that CBS “seeks a wholly unprecedented restraining order based on the alleged misappropriation of processes and techniques already well known to everyone who has ever worked in reality television.”
ABC argues that this effort is similar to CBS' 2004 attempt to stop the network from airing I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! because it was allegedly too similar to CBS' Survivor. The court at the time denied that request.
“Today, CBS renews its effort to suppress competition in the reality show genre with its mirror-image effort to enjoy The Glass House,” charges ABC in the filing.
ABC says CBS’ copyright claim “will not succeed on its merits” because it does not meet the legal test to demonstrate copyright infringement. “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.”
ABC says CBS has asked the court to believe the network has some “secret process” of creating TV that no one else has and that ABC is trying to gain access to the “secret process” by hiring people who have had experience working on Big Brother. ABC says not only are those jobs and processes commonly known, but CBS gives tours of the Big Brother set and puts information about the show on YouTube so it is all public.
There is no conspiracy, says ABC, to hire away former Big Brother employees: “Workers often follow a showrunner (like Kenny Rosen)…with whom they like working. Similarly, showrunners like hiring people that they know will do a good job. That is what happened here.”
Rosen, says the legal filling, last worked on Big Brother in 2006 and since then has worked on the Fox show Hell’s Kitchen.
ABC also says that CBS is wrong when it claims that airing the competing show would cause harm and take away viewers.
In reality, ABC argues, it would be irreparably harmed if Glass House is postponed after the network has spent $16 million to promote the premiere on Monday night, in what the network calls “prime real estate in ABC’s summer schedule after The Bachelorette.”
“A temporary restraining order,” says ABC, “even for a week, would seriously undermine the show’s potential success."
ABC is repped by Glen Pomerantz and a team from Munger Tolles & Olson. CBS is repped by Scott Edelman and a team from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.