Showtime Beats 'Billions' Lawsuit

A performance coach claimed one of the characters is based on her, but the court isn't convinced.
Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME
'Billions'

Showtime has convinced a New York federal judge to cancel a lawsuit from a performance coach who claimed that Billions copied her story. 

Denise Shull in January sued the network, claiming Maggie Siff's character Wendy Rhoades is based on her book Market Mind Games and that series co-creator Andrew Ross Sorkin asked her to help develop the character and she was never compensated. Showtime asked U.S. District Judge George Daniels to toss the complaint, arguing, among other things that the works and the women are nothing alike. 

Daniels on Friday sided with the network — finding that the nature of the works (an academic book that uses fiction to ease reader comprehension and a series about the "age old trifecta of money, power and sex) and Shull/Rhoades aren't substantially similar. 

"[T]his Court cannot identify any copying," writes the judge, who goes on to explain that in-house performance coaches like the fictional Rhoades aren't rare on Wall Street.  

"Although Shull is well known in the performance coaching world, it cannot be said that she can copyright the idea of a female in-house performance coach," writes Daniels, explaining that a finding of copyright infringement would essentially grant Shull a monopoly on the concept and would be even more troubling because "the characters of Denise and Wendy do not resemble one another in the slightest."

The judge also tossed Shull's state law claims because they arise from the alleged copying, and claims for breach of implied-in-fact contract and unjust enrichment because they fail on the merits. (Read the full decision, below.)

A Showtime spokesperson on Monday sent The Hollywood Reporter this statement in response to the decision: "We are pleased that the court agreed with our position all along that Billions did not infringe on Denise Shull’s book and that the characters of Wendy Rhoades and Denise Shull 'do not resemble one another in the slightest.'"

Shull on October 14 issued a lengthy statement that said, in part, she intends to appeal the decision "to fight for what is fair for me but also to advocate on behalf of everyone who has had their work co-opted by those with more wealth and power."

Oct. 15, 6:45 a.m. Updated with a statement from Denise Shull.