In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Virginia, Timothy J. Levi alleges that the show borrowed heavily from his book “Unity Incorporated: The Mastermind,” which was published in 2007.
Fox did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Levi alleges he gave a copy of his manuscript to Virginia lawyer Robert Walker, who made a copy of it and handed it over to Strong and Daniels at some point before “Empire” premiered in 2015.
Among the similarities between the two works, according to Levi, are the lead characters. Lucious Lyon, played by Terrence Howard, is a prominent record company owner with a troubled childhood and drug-dealing past, just like the protagonist of Levi’s novel, Anthony Lewis.
Both stories also allegedly contain a storyline about three African-American men who became friends in their teens, and one is murdered by the lead character, forcing the other to testify against him in court.
Levi is seeking an injunction against further production and distribution of “Empire” and damages he believes may equal or exceed $1.5 billion.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.