CBS drops “Glass House” lawsuit

U.S. net CBS has filed for voluntary dismissal of its copyright infringement case against ABC over the reality show The Glass House, but is continuing claims against former Big Brother producers in separate arbitration.
August 20, 2012

CBS has dropped a lawsuit that alleged rival U.S. broadcaster ABC ripped off its Big Brother format in creating the reality series The Glass House.

In May, CBS filed suit in Los Angeles federal court against the Disney-controlled network and several former Big Brother producers, citing copyright infringement, trade-secret misappropriation, unfair competition, breach of contract and conspiracy, among other things. On Friday (August 17), the Eye network filed for voluntary dismissal, but said in a statement that it reserves the right to re-file the case.

The Glass House, which brought 14 contestants together in a state-of-the-art house to compete for a quarter of a million dollars, has rated poorly, averaging 2.9 million viewers this summer.

“The viewers have spoken and delivered the ultimate form of justice against The Glass House,” said CBS in a statement. “As a result, we filed in federal court this morning a voluntary dismissal without prejudice of our claims against ABC. The contract and trade secrets claims against former Big Brother producers for violating their confidentiality agreements will continue separately in arbitration.

“We reserve the right to re-file this claim against ABC/The Glass House, or any other entity, that goes to such shocking lengths to duplicate our copyright material.”

CBS previously branded The Glass House “a carbon copy” of Big Brother, and alleged that at least 19 former producers and staff from Big Brother violated confidentiality agreements by working on the new show. Earlier this summer, a judge denied the network’s request for a restraining order to block the show from airing, arguing that the production techniques behind Big Brother are not unique and are used on other reality shows. The network later amended its suit and re-filed.

ABC countered that the differences between the two shows were “fundamental and obvious” and countered that CBS was attempting to “stifle competition and creativity” with the legal action.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.