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Televisa admits gamer suit defeat

Litigation had been in courts for nearly a decade

MEXICO CITY — Mexican media giant Grupo Televisa withdrew a final appeal in a gameshow copyright suit last week — a defeat that could cost the net $20 million.

Suit, filed by Mexican producer Jose Ludlow, owner of Kinema Films, has been in courts here for nearly a decade. It concerns the intellectual rights to gamer “Un golpe de vista puede ser un golpe de suerte” (A Quick Glance Could Be Your Lucky Day), which aired on Televisa during the 1994 and 1998 soccer World Cup tourneys.

Program, designed to stop viewers from switching channels during the commercial breaks in soccer games, was a huge ratings success for the net. But Ludlow has successfully alleged that Televisa stole his idea without compensating him for it.

“This is a watershed decision,” Ludlow said. “Hopefully, this will ensure that in Mexico, people will finally start to respect intellectual property.”

Ludlow pitched the idea, which he had patented and copyrighted in Mexico and the U.S., to Televisa in 1993.

The net didn’t buy; instead, it registered a trademark under an almost identical name several months later.

Ludlow filed suit in 1993, and in 2000 the courts cancelled Televisa’s trademark for the gamer, allowing Ludlow to file a second suit for damages, which he won last year. Televisa appealed to the Mexican Supreme Court but pulled out a week ago, closing the possibility for further appeal.

Ruling requires Televisa to pay Ludlow 40% of the income generated from program, likely to be between $12 million and $20 million.

If Televisa doesn’t choose to settle with Ludlow, producer says, it and the advertisers will be forced to open their books in court to determine extent of damages.

“It could be much more,” said Ludlow, who is considering suing Televisa in the U.S. for violation of his American copyright.

He claims the victory is the first against the Mexican media mammoth and could open the net to a wave of similar suits.

TV Azteca, Televisa’s chief rival in Mexico, is in a copyright lawsuit with reality show producer Endemol over skein “La Academia,” which aired here in 2002.

Televisa, Mexico’s largest broadcaster, declined to comment on the case.

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