CBS has followed through on its threat last week to bring a legal action against ABC over the planned reality show Glass House. CBS believes the show is a ripoff of its Big Brother and is being produced by a team that formerly worked on the long-running hit series.
A source tells The Hollywood Reporter that the lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, which suggests that CBS is alleging a federal copyright infringement claim. Both shows feature contestants living together in a house rigged with cameras and competing to avoid eviction for a six-figure cash prize. We'll post the full complaint when we track it down.
As we first reported May 4, CBS lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to top ABC executives Anne Sweeney and Alan Braverman claiming that Glass House is "strikingly" similar to Big Brother, which CBS has aired since 2000.
"In the strongest possible terms, we must admonish ABC and anyone involved 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," CBS lawyer Scott Edelman wrote, "and that CBS has instructed us to pursue all available remedies if this course of conduct continues."
CBS claims that the new ABC series is being produced by Big Brother veterans who might reveal private information about the inner workings of the show. Specifically, ABC alternative development executive Corie Henson is a Big Brother alum, and both Kenny Rosen and Mike O'Sullivan worked on the show.
This isn't the first spat over similar reality television shows. In a famous case, Wife Swap producer RDF Media fought with Fox over the apparent knockoff Trading Spouses, and a similar feud broke out over I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!, which allegedly was too similar to Survivor. Both cases settled.
"In short, ABC has used nearly identical protectable elements that form the essence of Big Brother and copies them in creating Glass House, establishing a classic case of copyright infringement," the CBS letter said.