The copy infringement lawsuit claiming that Fox comedy “New Girl” was ripped off from two unknown writers was dismissed by a judge, but the plaintiffs can refile and amend their complaint.
See photos: The Faces of Pilot Season 2014 (Photos)
According to legal documents filed in the U.S. District Court of Central California obtained by TheWrap on Friday, Judge Stephen Wilson described writers Stephanie Counts and Shari Gould’s complaint against Fox, William Morris Endeavor, show runner Elizabeth Meriwether and executive producer Peter Chernin as “ambiguous.”
“Much of the parties’ arguments surrounding this issue illustrates a more fundamental problem with Plaintiffs’ copyright infringement claims: they are ambiguous,” the judge wrote. “Plaintiffs’ copyright registration for ‘Square One’ includes four versions — including both the television pilot and feature-length script. Each of these versions is a separate work which might be infringed by Defendants.”
In the initial lawsuit filed in January, Counts and Gold said their script, at the time a feature screenplay called “Square One,” was passed to Meriwether and former Fox chief Peter Chernin‘s Chernin Entertainment, both of whom were represented by William Morris Endeavor. The writers allegedly worked with WME and an independent producer from 2006 to 2010 before the relationships broke down.
Then, in February 2011, the lawsuit says the plaintiffs heard about the pilot for the Zooey Deschanel sitcom, which, like their script, featured a quirky girl who had just gone through a bad breakup and moved in with three men. The lawsuit details dozens of other specific similarities between the “Square One” script and the pilot for “New Girl.”
In his decision this week, the judge dismissed the claim for “equitable relief — right of attribution” without prejudice, which allows the writing pair to refile and amend their complaint.
“Though the Court seriously doubts that Plaintiffs can plead a valid claim based on their right to be credited as ‘New Girl’s’ creators, it cannot say that such a claim is impossible,” Wilson wrote in his decision.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.