Channel Nine sues McEwen over international rights

AUCKLAND — The Kiwi creators of reality show “Dream Home” are going to court in Australia to defend their claims that “The Block,” which airs on Oz’s Channel Nine and has sold worldwide, rips off their format.

The Australian Federal Court hearing in June is the latest legal fight over “Dream Home,” co-owned by pubcaster Television New Zealand and production company Ninox.

Channel Nine is suing after Ninox owner John McEwen told international TV nets licensing “The Block” that the Australian show was a breach of copyright.

Ninox has also filed legal action for breach of copyright against the producers of U.S. skein “The Complex” and the Fox network, which aired it. That action is on hold until after the Australian case.

In “Dream Home,” couples renovate run-down homes and viewers vote for the winner.

Ninox licensed it to Channel Nine, which made one series. In 2002 it bowed “The Block,” in which couples compete to renovate an apartment, which is auctioned and the winners take a cash prize.

McEwen said Ninox had lost millions of dollars in international licensing agreements as a result of Channel Nine’s alleged breach of copyright.

Ninox has already sued Universal McCann, Turner Broadcasting and Lowe’s hardware chain in the U.S. for breaching copyright of “Dream Home.” The dispute was settled out of court, and Ninox and TVNZ split the undisclosed sum.

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