ABC‘s reality series The Glass House is long forgotten following a low-rated run last summer, but the legal battle that it triggered is just now coming to an end. CBS announced this morning that the network has “reached a settlement in arbitration with the parties in The Glass House legal dispute.” CBS in May 2012 sued ABC, claiming that The Glass House was a rip-off of Big Brother while accusing former Big Brother producers who worked for Glass House of violating confidentiality agreements. CBS dropped its case against ABC last August while taking its legal action against the Glass House producers and network executives to arbitration. (The Big Brother alums in question — Glass House EP Kenny Rosen, producer Michael O’Sullivan and ABC VP Alternative Programming Corie Henson — fired back with a countersuit against CBS in November). According to CBS, the network “will receive financial compensation as part of the settlement. The producers have admitted that one of them used confidential Big Brother manuals in the production of The Glass House, and they have expressed regret for using this material. In addition, those involved have pledged not to misappropriate CBS trade secrets in the future.”
They say people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones but that hasn’t prevented an ABC VP and the producers of the network’s The Glass House from firing back at CBS in the courts. The reality show’s executive producer Kenny Rosen, producer Michael O’Sullivan and ABC’s Vice-President of Alternative Programming Corie Henson have sued (read complaint here) CBS claiming that the network is using the legal “equivalent of war” against them in its arbitration actions. All three of the plaintiffs served in the past as producers on CBS’s Big Brother. In its now-dropped suit against ABC – filed on May 10 - CBS claimed that The Glass House was a blatant rip-off of Big Brother. Glass House floundered in the ratings over the summer and never came close to being a threat to Big Brother with viewers. While CBS let its legal action against ABC go in mid-August after some legal setbacks, it has pursued contract and trade secret claims that the former producers violated their confidentiality agreements. “We believe this is simply an attempt to delay the inevitable arbitration proceeding. We are very confident in our position that there has been a violation of signed, written confidentiality agreements, and we will look forward to a determination of that matter by the arbitration panel,” said CBS in a statement today.
It isn’t over in the legal battle between CBS and ABC over The Glass House. Despite a number of legal setbacks, CBS is still pursuing its claim that the ABC reality show is a rip-off of its Big Brother. Earlier this week, following a Magistrate Judge’s June 26 denial of a fast discovery process, the network submitted an amended lawsuit (Read it here) in the matter. Similar in many ways to the suit CBS filed on May 10, the 46-page July 30 filing says “consistent with Defendants’ intention to copy Big Brother, Glass House is nearly identical to Big Brother in every way”. Well, not every way. After a judge refused CBS’ request for a temporary restraining order against the new show, The Glass House debuted on June 18 to soft ratings and has continued to stay pretty low ever since. Big Brother, on the other hand, returned for a 14th season on July 12 and, while down from last year, has had strong ratings.
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The Bachelorette (2.2/6) had its tell-all episode last night with the guys who didn’t make Emily Maynard’s cut. The show was down 12% from last week and tied a season low (with the exception of specials). Still, last night’s episode – the last before July 22’s finale — was Monday’s most-watched show with more than 7 million viewers. Meanwhile, the fifth week of The Glass House (1.0/3) was flat with last week and tied a season low. ABC won the night in viewers and Fox won in adults 18-49.
CBS was today denied their request for a fast discovery process in the network’s lawsuit against ABC’s Glass House. This comes less than a week after a District Court judge in the case (read it here) refused CBS’ request for a temporary restraining order to stop production and broadcasting of Glass House, which debuted on June 18 as planned. “In view of the District Court’s ruling, there is no basis for expedited discovery,” ruled Magistrate Judge John McDermott today. On May 10, CBS sued ABC and various Glass House producers claiming their new show was a ripoff of the network’s Big Brother. McDermott’s four page order (Read it here) takes a lot of the urgency out of CBS’s case. In fact, the judge noted that if the dueling networks can’t work out some of the discovery process themselves, CBS can present a new motion after an upcoming scheduling conference. As the discovery aspect of the case moved forward and backward, CBS file a request for a TRO on June 7 to stop Glass House. Judge Gary Feess said at a June 15 hearing with both network’s lawyer that he was inclined to deny the request. “CBS has not convinced me that they will succeed in their copyright claims,” he said. “CBS seeks to protect the idea of a show of contestants in a house where cameras are running…you can’t copyright that…. I don’t …
ABC: We’re pleased the Court agreed with ABC’s arguments that The Glass House is a very different show and people working in the reality television industry should not be prevented from bringing their skills to a new employer. We are thrilled viewers will now get a chance to continue to enjoy and participate in ABC’s The Glass House.
CBS: This is only one preliminary step in a long road; we will now aggressively move two steps forward.
We intend to proceed with our claims against Disney/ABC for copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets. At the same time, we will move forward with our individual claims for liability and liquidated damages against any current “Glass House” producer who violated their “Big Brother” confidentiality agreement.
The Court was very clear that its Order was without prejudice to any future proceedings and CBS looks forward to the evidence that further discovery will reveal, particularly from the estimated 30 former “Big Brother” producers/staff now employed by “Glass House.”
PREVIOUS: It’s official: A judge today refused CBS’ request for a temporary restraining order against ABC’s The Glass House. The reality show debuted Monday as planned — to soft ratings. In his ruling (Read it here) Judge Gary Feess wrote today that the court “has concluded that, while it cannot say that CBS will not prevail at trial, it has concluded that success on the merits is unlikely. The evidence before the Court indicates that, under the substantial similarity test, CBS is not likely to prove that Glass House has misappropriated protectable elements of Big Brother.” CBS sued ABC on May 10 claiming it’s a blatant rip-off of its Big Brother and infringes on the CBS show copyright. ABC, which claims it has spent about $16 million promoting Glass House’s debt, has said the CBS suit has “no merit.”
In another turn in the Glass House case, ABC late Friday opposed as “overbroad” a CBS request for the network and the new reality show’s employees’ correspondence. On May 10 CBS sued ABC, Keep Calm Productions and various former Big Brother producers claiming that The Glass House is a rip-off of their Big Brother. Earlier this week, as the two networks battled over a proposed temporary restraining order on The Glass House’s June 18 debut, CBS said that it wants to see all documents in the preparation and production of the ABC show, including emails, texts, social media, design plans, show manuals and episode outlines. ABC, who under CBS’ proposal would have only 48 hours after the judge’s ruling to hand over the material, late Friday dismissed the request. “CBS appears to be wielding this litigation, and this overbroad discovery, as a weapon in an effort to thwart ABC from launching a successful competing show, and to prevent its former employees from taking the job of their choice,” ABC said. ABC claims that CBS’s latest discovery requests would scoop up correspondence unrelated to the case such as “if two story editors from The Glass House who never worked on Big Brother exchange emails about whether to include a fight between Joy and Alex in next Monday’s episode of The Glass House.”
The discovery matter ABC filed late Friday with magistrate Judge John McDermott came as …
2ND UPDATE 4PM: ABC has issued the following statement in response of CBS’ filing: “We believe there is no merit to this lawsuit. The differences between Glass House and Big Brother are both fundamental and obvious, ranging from Glass House’s interactive elements and audience participation to its deployment of cutting edge technologies.
UPDATE, 3:05 PM: CBS claims in the lawsuit (read it here) that The Glass House employs “at least 19″ former producers and staff from Big Brother, and details them all by name in today’s filing. CBS is suing for copyright infringement, trade-secret misappropriation, unfair competition, breach of contract and conspiracy among other claims, calling Glass House “a carbon copy” of its Big Brother. As for dollar amounts, the network is asking for $500,000 “for each of the Individual Defendants’ acts in violation of the non-disclosure agreements” — with multiple clauses, those totals add up fast — in addition to other damages and legal fees. “CBS therefore brings this action to obtain preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and restitution, and to recover compensatory and punitive damages.”
PREVIOUS, 1:45 PM: A week after CBS fired a warning shot with a letter to ABC threatening to take legal action if the network proceeds with its recently announced summer reality series The Glass House, the eye network today filed a lawsuit against the Disney-owned broadcast networks. I haven’t seen the filing yet, but last week’s letter noted that Glass …
ABC has picked up The Glass House, a competition reality series in the vein of Big Brother. It is set to premiere June 18 and is executive produced by former Big Brother producer Kenny Rosen. Described as an interactive real-life and real-time reality competition, Glass House features 14 contestants living and competing for a quarter million dollars in a wired, state-of-the-art house, playing against each other as well as for the viewers’ online votes that will help determine which contestants are sent home and also which eliminated players will earn the chance to return.
Also like Big Brother, Glass House will have an online component as several times a week viewers can watch a live online feed of the players. In this case, the audience can vote and decide everything from what players wear and eat to the games they play, even where they sleep. Viewers will also have the chance to give their favorite contestants feedback on their game from outside the house.