In the lawsuit filed Thursday in United States District Court, CBS alleges copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation, unfair competition and breach of fiduciary duty, among other complaints, against ABC and its parent, The Walt Disney Company. “If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” the suit begins, “then CBS should take pride in ABC’s latest reality TV project. Glass House, which remarkably employs at least 19 former producers and staff from CBS’ hit reality TV series Big Brother, is a carbon copy of Big Brother and an obvious attempt by Defendants to capitalize on its unique success. CBS therefore brings this action to halt and recover its damages from Defendants’ ongoing infringement of its rights in Big Brother.”
ABC recently announced plans to develop a summer reality show that features 14 contestants living together in a house rigged with cameras. CBS says it has been the exclusive U.S. licensee of Big Brother since 2000.
The lawsuit also goes on to say that Glass House “replicates every key aspect of Big Brother, including, among other things, its plot, themes, mood, setting, pace, characters, sequence of events, and other concrete elements.”
UPDATE: ABC has broken its silence on CBS’ accusations: “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.”