The upcoming ABC reality show "Million Dollar Idea" has sparked a million-dollar lawsuit claiming the idea for the series was ripped off.
(The Hollywood Reporter) -- The upcoming ABC reality show "Million Dollar Idea" has sparked a million-dollar lawsuit claiming the idea for the series was ripped off.
ABC, "American Idol" production company FremantleMedia North America and Simon Cowell, the "Idol" star who is one of "Million's" executive producers, are all named in a lawsuit filed Aug. 10 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by Roaring Entertainment, a Minneapolis-based production company. The lawsuit charges copyright and trademark infringement among other claims, and seeks damages in the "tens of millions."
Roaring principals Jean Golden and Todd Walker contend in the lawsuit that ABC's "Million" infringes on the copyrighted format and trademarked brand of its own similarly-themed syndicated program, also titled "Million Dollar Idea." Both program stage contests awarding $1 million to the creator of the most ingenious invention.
Golden and Walker claim they pitched their program, which currently airs on 125 stations around the country, to Andrea Wong, executive VP of alternative programming, specials and late night, in early 2004. Last month, ABC announced its own "Million," describing the project as the brainchild of Cowell and British entrepreneur Peter Jones.
"The similarities between plaintiffs' 'Million Dollar Idea' and ABC and Cowell's newly-minted clone are too striking to be the result of accident or coincidence," the lawsuit claims.
ABC declined to address the lawsuit, releasing only a statement that read, "We have not even been served with the complaint in this matter, and so have no comment." FremantleMedia, which produces "Idol," declined comment as well, as did Cowell through his representative.
The lawsuit is the latest in a string of legal skirmishes that has accompanied the explosion of unscripted TV programming in recent years. Many popular formats including NBC's "The Contender" and Fox's "Trading Spouses" have either been allegedly imitated or accused of imitation by would-be producers or rival networks.