Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tokyo Broadcasting System is Not Amused About Wipeout

Tokyo Broadcasting System has sued ABC (and in essence, attempting to sue Endemol USA) over the hit show Wipeout. As per from October of last year:

"Leading Japanese broadcaster Tokyo Broadcasting System has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against ABC, charging that summer hit 'Wipeout' is 'a blatant copycat' of several of its classic Japanese competition series. TBS owns the Japanese copyright to the obstacle course series 'Takeshi's Castle,' co-owns the rights to Spike TV's 'MXC' (which uses footage from 'Castle') and owns the copyright to competition series 'Sasuke' (whose repeats air under the title 'Ninja Warrior' on G4).

'''From the moment ABC revealed 'Wipeout' to the public, that program has been routinely described as a rip-off and knockoff of Plaintiff's shows,' reads the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. 'ABC's willful and wrongful use of Plaintiff's shows to create 'Wipeout' is egregious, inexcusable and not to be tolerated.' Among the charges are that ABC bought search terms such as 'MXC' on Google to help drive traffic to the official Wipeout page, and that specific obstacles in Wipeout were knock-offs of challenges in the Japanese shows.

"'Wipeout' unlawfully appropriates the premise, the format, the sequence of events, the introductory segment, the tone, the scene setups, the narration, the dialogue that arises from constructed situations ... of the shows,' the lawsuit reads. Successful reality series often draw lawsuits from parties alleging the concept was stolen. However, the complaints usually involve producing entities. A major broadcast network suing another over a reality series is extremely rare. In 2002, CBS accused ABC of knocking off 'Survivor' with its reality effort 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here,' yet a judge ruled in ABC's favor and allowed the show to continue. (Another version failed yet miserably this summer over on NBC.)

"Spike TV (owned by Viacom) had earlier issued a press release joking about the shows being alike, though a producer of 'MXC' was less amused by the similarity. Notably missing from the defendant list on TBS' complaint is Endemol USA, the company producing 'Wipeout.' A separate lawsuit against Endemol is pending, sources said. In addition to its successful run in the U.S., Endemol is actively selling the show's format around the world, directly competing with the formats for TBS' series.

"The suit on behalf of TBS was filed by top litigation attorney Larry Stein, known mostly for his high-profile profit participation cases. He has filed two major complaints against ABC in the past, one involving the producers of longrunning comedy 'Home Improvement' and one involving 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' producer [Sony Pictures Entertainment, successor to 2waymedia and Celador, the original creators of the show], which is awaiting trial. In July, ABC Studios was slammed for a leaked memo which has been described as a blueprint for stealing foreign formats (though it should be noted that the letter was from the studio instead of the network, and related to scripted programming instead of reality). ABC and Stein had no comment."

Here's the video proof from those at MXC.

I think TBS has a good chance of wnning this suit if you ask me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little less optimistic about the chances of the lawsuit because things like this never pan out (even though the situation is a bit different), but nonetheless, I am pulling hard for TBS to win this one!

    Anderson and Henson are nowhere near as funny as Vic Romano and Kenny Blankenship, and yet, they copy the same style as Romano and Blankenship.