Spanish Producer Fires Back at Motion to Dismiss 'Timeless' Lawsuit

Onza Partners says comparing only the series pilot episodes to establish infringement would encourage idea theft.
Joe Lederer/NBC
NBC's 'Timeless'

The producer who claims NBC's Timeless is a rip-off of his Spanish-language series isn't backing down from a legal fight with the network and studio.

Onza Partners sued Sony and NBC Universal in November, claiming the new NBC sci-fi drama is a rip-off of their original Spanish version. The company's principal, Gonzalo Sagardia, says negotiations were underway to create an English-language version of El Ministerio del Tiempo when news of Timeless broke and Sony backed out of deal talks.

Sony moved to dismiss the suit in November, arguing that time travel is a "well-established genre" and Onza can't prove the two shows "embody anything more than generic similarities between two works in the time-travel genre."

Now Onza is returning fire, claiming that the motion is merely an effort to dodge discovery.

"This copyright action does not deal with a fly-by-night producer alleging that his generic idea for a reality TV show was copied by a major network," writes attorney Devin McRae in an opposition to the motion to dismiss. "Instead, this case is about an infringing knock-off of a fully produced, internationally broadcast and licensed Spanish time travel adventure television series entitled Ministerio del Tiempo created while negotiations for an American version were taking place."

McRae also argues that the court should not prematurely analyze substantial similarity based on a limited sample of the series.

"Defendants urge the Court to hastily determine a dispositive issue of substantial similarity," writes McRae. "Yet in support of their Motion, Defendants have submitted only the pilot episodes of Ministerio and Timeless for the Court’s review, even though the Complaint specifically alleges that Timeless infringes the entire Ministerio series. This runs contrary to decades of Ninth Circuit precedent, the Complaint’s allegations and common sense."

McRae says such a practice would be a message to potential infringers that they could freely copy a series as long as they make the pilot episode as different from the source material as possible.

A hearing on the matter is currently set for Feb. 13.

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