Writers’ Claims of Theft of Idea for ‘New Girl’ Show Dismissed by Judge

In October of 2014, a judge rejected a lawsuit filed by writers Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold claiming copyright infringement of their work by Fox’s ‘New Girl’ television series.

In January of last year, the writers sued William Morris Endeavor (WME) Entertainment, Fox, Liz Meriwether (showrunner of New Girl) and executive producer Peter Chernin for allegedly basing the ‘New Girl’ series on the writers’ own proposals for a movie or television series which they said would have been titled Square One.  As defendants in the suit, Fox demanded a dismissal of the charges saying in court documents that “the only similarities between the works arise from general, non-protectable ideas.”  In October, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson rejected the lawsuit against Fox and the other defendants, saying the copyright infringement claims were ambiguous.

The judge ultimately dismissed the claim without prejudice, meaning the writers could bring the claim against the defendants again.  However, after the plaintiffs/writers had rejected a settlement offer of $10,000 allegedly extended by Fox and switched lawyers, the statute of limitations came into play, suggesting that perhaps they did not obtain an explicit tolling agreement in order to extend the time to file the claim.

Ultimately, on June 12 of this year Judge Wilson granted WME (William Morris Endeavor) Entertainment’s motion to dismiss the idea theft claim.  This time the judge dismissed the claim with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs cannot file a lawsuit against the defendants again.  The Court found that Counts and Gold failed to allege any facts which would excuse the writers from timely filing of the claim.

As Los Angeles business attorneys specializing in entertainment law, we know these types of copyright infringement claims are made frequently in the entertainment industry.  Writers, designers, and other artists or “creatives” often feel that their ideas and works have effectively been stolen.  In some situations this is indeed the case, in others it may not be.  Do not allow the statute of limitations to dictate the outcome of your claim. For copyright infringement and other entertainment issues, trust the team at Spotora & Associates for unparalleled legal guidance and support.





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This entry was posted on Monday, June 1st, 2015 at 2:52 pm and is filed under Business & Corporate Law, Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property, Litigation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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