CBS has filed a lawsuit against ABC, claiming that the latter's upcoming series "Life in a Glass House" pays a little bit too much of an homage to its own hit "Big Brother."
In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in California Thursday, the network claims that "Glass House" shares numerous similarities to "Big Brother" — perhaps not surprising because, according to the suit, 19 former "Big Brother" producers and cast members are currently working on "Glass House."
"If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then CBS should take pride in ABC's latest reality television project, 'Life in a Glass House' ('Glass House')," the suit begins.
Among the many similarities that two shows share, according to the suit: "(i) both series involve, among other things, approximately 14 contestants living in a large house, isolated from the outside world, who are filmed continuously; (ii) both series involve interactive features, through which viewers are able to have input into aspects of the show, such as challenges in which the participants compete; (iii) in both series, contestants are voted off and the last contestant standing wins."
The suit goes on to allege that the former "Big Brother" staffers "are actively disclosing CBS's trade secrets and confidential information to ABC and its affiliates in violation of broad and binding non-disclosure agreements they signed in connection with their work on 'Big Brother.'"
According to the suit, the non-disclosure agreements call for a $500,000 fine if they're violated.
ABC denies that its "Life in a Glass House" is a copycat series.
We believe there is no merit to this lawsuit," the network said in a statement provided to TheWrap. "The differences between 'Glass House' and 'Big Brother' are both fundamental and obvious, ranging from 'Glass House'’s interactive elements and audience participation to its deployment of cutting edge technologies.
The suit claims copyright infringement, trade secret appropriation, unfair competition, conspiracy, and breach of contract, among other grievances. The Walt Disney Company, Keep Calm and Carry On Productions and the former "Big Brother" staffers are also named as plaintiffs in the suit.
CBS is asking that ABC and the other defendants be enjoined from using CBS' confidential information and surrender all copyrighted material and trade secrets they may have. The network is also asking for $500,000 each from the former "Big Brother" employees for allegedly breaching their confidentiality agreements, plus undisclosed damages, attorneys' fees and court costs.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.