Parapsychologist and publicist claim that they had pitched a remarkably similar concept for a series
NBCUniversal failed to scare up a high-court victory in a case alleging it lifted the idea for the Syfy Channel series "Ghost Hunters."
According to court documents obtained by TheWrap, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request from the conglomerate to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling on Montz v. Pilgrim Films & Television, a 2006 lawsuit alleging that NBCU stole the idea for the paranormal reality series.
The case, which was filed by parapsychologist Larry Montz and publicist Daena Smoller, was originally dismissed, but received a second chance from the Court of Appeals in California last year, when that court decided that the case had merit.
According to Montz and Smoller's suit, the pair pitched a series that would follow a team to allegedly haunted locations, where they would use equipment such as magnometers and infrared cameras to investigate reports of paranormal activity.
Montz and Smoller allege that they pitched the concept to several entertainment-business entities, including representatives of NBC and its subsidiary, the then-named Sci-Fi channel, from 1996 to 2003 with the intent of partnering on a series.
In 2006 — two years after "Ghost Hunters" premiered — the pair filed a complaint against Pilgrim Films & Television, which produces "Ghost Hunters," as well as NBC Universal and 10 other unnamed defendants in federal district court, alleging breach of implied contract, breach of confidence, copyright infringement and several other claims.
In its request for review, NBC argued that federal copyright law trumps state contract law. However, the Supreme Court rejected the request to review Monday.
In a statement provided to TheWrap, NBC expressed dismay over the court's decision, but remained confident that it would ultimately prevail.
"We are disappointed that the Supreme Court decided not to hear our challenge to the appeals court's ruling on the threshold legal issue of copyright preemption," the statement reads. "However, now that the lower court will begin to hear the actual facts, we are confident it will determine the case has no merit."
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.