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Making a case for a suit

Posted by Johnson & Johnson, LLP | Feb 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

Pursuing an intellectual property suit without direct evidence

John Musero, a writer and former client of CAA, sued the agency and his former agents for allegedly taking ideas from his previous script to use in a pilot script for CBS. Musero claimed that the agents redeveloped his script with another writer, posing it as original material. 

Making a case for a suit

Intellectual property laws protect a writer's work from plagiarism. Musero, in this case, didn't have ‘direct evidence' that his former agency had copied his work. Alternatively, here are the tactics he and his legal counsel used in his claims against his former agency:

  • The writer, in this case, used an ‘inference of use' to demonstrate that the two works in question (his own and the alleged copy) were significantly similar. He went on to explain that the agents had prior access to the ideas that he presented in his original script.
  • The writer claimed that one of the jobs of an entertainment agent is to ‘resource material' for clients. The claim supposes that agents used the agency's database of client scripts to provide material for another writer.
  • The writer also argued that the agents were savvy enough to communicate the writer's ideas to the other writer while upholding their plausible deniability.
  • The writer claimed that the plot and character similarities, including the order in which events occurred, were too similar to be mere coincidence.

Justifying an intellectual property claim

Despite the agency's efforts to shut down the complaint, the judge ruled that the writer (Musero) didn't need to show that the new writer had physical possession of his old script to continue with litigation. Though it does not give any sign of a ruling, the judge decided that because the other writer had a reasonable possibility of either gaining access to or acquiring knowledge of the script, this was enough consideration for the case to continue.

Safeguarding your ideas

You don't want someone else to profit from your hard-earned ideas. If you feel you have an intellectual property rights claim, you need an attorney experienced in entertainment law and intellectual property law to make sure that your rights are upheld.

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