CBS suffers setback in legal battle against "Big Brother"-like series "Glass House"
In a development that had pretty much been a foregone conclusion for a week, a judge officially denied CBS' request for a temporary restraining order against ABC's new reality series "The Glass House" on Friday.
"[T]he Court finds that CBS has failed to demonstrate an entitlement to the preliminary relief sought," an order from U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess stated.
CBS filed suit against ABC in May, claiming that "The Glass House" — which employs numerous veterans of its own reality series, "Big Brother" — uses proprietary information from "Big Brother." ABC has denied this claim, noting that the similarities between the two shows — which both feature a group of strangers living in a house and competing against each other — are boilerplate elements shared by most reality TV shows.
Feess' order is hardly surprising; on June 15, the judge indicated that he was unlikely to grant CBS' request for a restraining order on the reality show, which premiered to lackluster ratings on June 18.
"We're pleased the Court agreed with ABC's arguments that 'The Glass House' is a very different show and people working in the reality television industry should not be prevented from bringing their skills to a new employer," ABC said in a statement following Judge Fees' decision Friday. "We are thrilled viewers will now get a chance to continue to enjoy and participate in ABC's 'The Glass House.'"
In his decision Feess noted that "the Court … has concluded that, while it cannot say that CBS will not prevail at trial, it has concluded that success on the merits is unlikely."
The order added, ""the evidence indicates to the Court that "Big Brother"'s alleged trade secrets were either already known to the business … were readily capable of being 'reverse-engineering' based on information disclosed in the public domain …or were not adequately protected as trade secrets."
Feess also noted that "CBS has failed to persuade the Court that it will suffer immediate and irreparable injury if 'Glass House' airs."
During last Friday's hearing, Feess said that CBS's trade-secret claims are conflated, and that the network's arguments are not strong. He added that California public policy favors employment and competition and described "Glass House" and "Big Brother" as "quite different television programs." Specifically, Feess suggested that the heightened audience-participation element of "Glass House" will induce significantly different behavior in the show's contestants than on "Big Brother."
Last week, the network said that, no matter what Feess' ultimate ruling was on the restraining order, the network would fight on.
"Win, lose or draw on the TRO, we fully intend to proceed with our claims against Disney/ABC for copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets over 'The Glass House,' which may still warrant more injunction proceedings depending on the content of each episode," CBS said in a statement provided to TheWrap. "At the same time, we will move forward with our individual claims for liability and liquidated damages against any current 'The Glass House' producer who violated their 'Big Brother' confidentiality agreement."