Judge to consider CBS’ request to halt ‘Glass House’

Court orders ABC to file response by 5 p.m. Monday

A federal judge has refused to put off a decision on CBS’ request for a temporary restraining order to halt production of ABC’s “Glass House” until after the reality series premieres on June 18.

U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess refused ABC’s request that the court instead consider a preliminary injunction on a normal briefing schedule, which would mean that he would not decide until July 9, after the show’s debut. CBS claims the show is a ripoff of “Big Brother.”

Instead, Feess ordered ABC’s legal team to file an official response to CBS’ request for a temporary restraining order by 5 p.m. on Monday, an expedited schedule that could mean that he will make a decision some time this week.

CBS’ claims against ABC and three former producers of “Big Brother” who now work on “Glass House” or for the Alphabet network include copyright infringement and theft of trade secrets.

ABC blasted CBS in a court filing on Friday, saying, “It would be difficult to find a case featuring so intransigent a plaintiff.” And it reiterated, “Plaintiffs have claimed copyright in reality show formats for years and always lost — because stock elements, generic ideas and scenes a faire that they have repeatedly sought to copyright are not protectable.” It cited a suit that CBS filed against ABC 10 years ago, claiming “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” was lifted from “Survivor,” in which the court found that the shows were not “substantially similar.”

It also says that CBS’ request for a TRO “points to no evidence whatsoever — and does not even allege — that anyone working on ‘Glass House’ has taken, disclosed or used any of these alleged processes at ‘Glass House.’ ” CBS’ charge that producer Kenny Rosen lifted from the “Big Brother” guest house manual was refuted because ABC said the manual is “not a trade secret but instead common sense items that anyone with reality show experience (or real-life experience, for that matter) could compile.” ABC also said that while he had a production assistant type up the manual, he also said he returned it to his counsel who then returned it to CBS. And it said the draft “Glass House” manual “looks nothing like” the “Big Brother” manual. The former is four pages and the latter is about 50.

CBS said in a statement earlier on Friday, “The public announcements from ABC and their producers’ own testimony about ‘Glass House’ clearly point to a program that will replicate virtually every element of ‘Big Brother.’ And, the deposition testimony included in a our court filing today further demonstrates the brazen lengths that former ‘Big Brother’ producers have gone to use confidential material, obtained while under our employment, to develop this new show.”

Its filings included a declaration from Jeff Rovin, a TV history author and expert copyright witness, concluding that “there are no programs in the current or prior art that share the unique combination of creative elements and program-specific production challenges found in both ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Glass House.’ The onscreen content and custom-crafted behind-the-scenes skill sets are, in effect, identical.”