FX Sued for Copyright Infringement Over ‘The League’

Writing duo claims that FX's "The League" is far too similar to their own project treatment

Writers Joseph Balsamo and Peter Ciancarelli  have filed suit against cable network FX, claiming that the series "The League" bears far too much of a resemblance to a 2006 treatment they had written for a project called  "The Commissioner."

"The League" creator Jeff Schaffer is also named in the suit.

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According to the copyright-infringement suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New York, both "The Commissioner" and "The League" — which recently wrapped up its third season on FX — both follow "a group of close friends" who "play in a fantasy football league for many years. The friends take joy in offending and torturing one another."

The alleged similarities don't end there. Among other familiar elements, the suit claims that both projects feature a "reigning champion of the fantasy football league" who has "won multiple times in a row"; groups of siblings who participate in the league; and aspiring entertainers who are referred to by their nicknames "and go through life aloof without focusing on the fantasy football league." (Those would be aspiring comedian Bilbo in "The Commissioner" and aspiring singer "Taco" in "The League.")

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Contacted by TheWrap, FX said it had no comment on the suit.

"Given the numerous and striking similarities between the two works, there can be no dispute that defendants Schaffer and FX had access to and copied protectable elements of the Treatment," the suit reads.

As a result, the suit says, "Plaintiffs have suffered irreparable damage as a consequence of their inability to market the Treatment to television producers and networks with interest in their work."

Balsamo and Ciancarelli are seeking unspecified damages, plus attorney's fees, interest and costs. They are also asking that FX be ordered to destroy any original materials or copies of "any work shown by evidence to infringe any copyright in "The Commissioner.'"

News of "The League" lawsuit was first reported by Deadline.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.