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Conan O’Brien Settles Suit With Joke Writer Who Claimed Theft

One of the most closely watched legal cases in the comedy world will not be going to trial.

Attorneys for Conan O’Brien, TBS and joke writer Robert Alexander Kaseberg announced on Thursday that they have settled a dispute over allegations of joke theft.

Kaseberg filed suit back in 2015, alleging that O’Brien had stolen five of his jokes for his opening monologue. The case was set to go to trial on May 28, and O’Brien was expected to testify, along with writers on the show, Turner Broadcasting executives and an expert on probability theory.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Kaseberg, 60, has written jokes for late-night shows off and on for decades. He has a blog and a Twitter account, and alleged that O’Brien’s writers stole his jokes in late 2014 and early 2015.

Among the jokes he posted online: “Tom Brady said he wants to give his MVP truck to the man who won the game for the Patriots. So enjoy that truck, Pete Carroll.”

Kaseberg accused O’Brien, Conaco and TBS of copyright infringement, claiming that his jokes were lifted verbatim for O’Brien’s monologue. O’Brien and his attorneys denied the allegations.

Had the case gone to trial, prominent comedians may have been called to testify, including Elayne Boosler and Patton Oswalt. Andy Richter was also on the list of potential witnesses.

Kaseberg’s attorney did not immediately provide a comment. O’Brien penned a column for Variety, in which he said that “parallel creation” of jokes, especially about current events, has become endemic in the age of Twitter.

Update: Kaseberg has issued a statement.

“As a professional comedy writer, all I want to do is make people laugh and stand up for the things I believe in,” he said. “I am proud my case helped shed light on an issue facing all comedy writers and am happy to have been part of contributing legal precedent on the issue of protection afforded to jokes. While I cannot discuss the terms of the settlement, I am happy we were able to reach an amicable resolution.”

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