CBS Sues ABC Claiming ‘Glass House’ Copies ‘Big Brother’

CBS Corp. sued Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network, alleging in a copyright infringement complaint that ABC’s “Life in a Glass House” is a “carbon copy” of CBS’s “Big Brother” reality television show.

“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then CBS should take pride in ABC’s latest reality television project,” CBS said in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles. It “replicates every key aspect of ‘Big Brother,’ including, among other things, its plot, themes, mood, setting, pace, characters, sequence of events.”

CBS, based in New York, said in the complaint that two former supervising producers and a former co-executive producer of “Big Brother,” as well as 16 other ex-producers and staff from the hit series, are working on “Glass House” and have disclosed CBS’s trade secrets and confidential information in violation of their non-disclosure agreements.

ABC, Burbank, California-based Disney and three former CBS employees are accused of copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition, among other claims. CBS asks for a court order to halt the alleged infringement and unspecified compensatory damages.

“We believe there is no merit to this lawsuit,” ABC spokeswoman Hope Hartman said in an e-mailed statement. “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 case is CBS v. ABC, 12-4073, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).