ABC might have a lawsuit on their hands. It seems as if their soon to released series The Glass House, which features 14 contestants living in a wired up house where they vote off one member at a time is eerily similar to the CBS smash hit Big Brother. It doesn’t help that the producer of The Glass House is none other than Big Brother producer Kenny Rosen.
CBS fired off a legal letter to ABC letting them know that if they proceed with the airing of The Glass House there will probably be a lawsuit filed against the station.
A CBS insider told Deadline.com,
“Given their behavior in this matter, we assume ABC will have no problem when we announce plans for our upcoming new series Dancin’ Wid Da Stars,”
In the letter to Disney-ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney and Walt Disney Co.’s General Counsel Alan Braverman, CBS’ outside counselor Scott A. Edelman directed to Rosen,ABC’s VP Alternative Programming Corie Henson and Mike O’Sullivan, who served as supervising producer on Big Brother for at least eight years and is now involved in the production of Glass House. The Letter notes the “striking” similarities between the two shows,
One (Big Brother) based on a 1999 Dutch format and one (Glass House) billed as original — which he claims are “establishing a classic case of copyright infringement”. He also contends that the ABC series “is produced by a team of at least 18 former members of CBS’ Big Brother production stuff — all of whom were privy to trade secrets and other confidential, proprietary information and signed broad and binding non-disclosure agreements in connection with Big Brother. We believe that it is impossible for the signatories of the Big Brother non-disclosure agreements to develop and produce a show as similar as Glass House without breaching their contractual obligations by disclosing or utilizing protected information,” the letter contends. Rosen, Henson and O’Sullivan, who all signed non-disclosure agreements when working on Big Brother, have received separate warning letters from CBS today.
The letter are being sent out as a warning in hopes that ABC will cancel the show.
The letter continues,
“In the strongest possible terms, we must admonish ABC and anyone in the development or production of Glass House that they will be acting at their own peril if they continue to proceed in this manner, and that CBS has instructed us to pursue all available remedies if this course of conduct continues. We hereby put ABC on notice that its continued development and production of Glass House exposes ABC to liability, including damages and injunctive relief, for violation of the Copyright Act, including breach of non-disclosure agreements and misappropriation of trade secrets,” the letter said.
It has proved difficult for stations to sue under copyright infringement for reality shows but this case is different in that it involves non-disclosure agreements by past staff.