Simon Says: Pay Up Fox!

August 2, 2011

I’m a fan of the Westlaw Welcome page.  It’s a great place to find hot topic lawsuits. Click on the Westlaw logo in the upper left corner of the screen.  At the Welcome page you will find interesting recent audio transcripts as well as new trial court documents including  the derivative suit by investors against Rupert Murdoch for the hacking scandal (2011 WL 2790646) and the complaint in a lawsuit against Jersey Shore’s “The Situation” brought by a former manager (2011 WL 2661094).  I also read the Simon Fuller pleadings:

Simon Fuller, creator of American Idol, has filed suit against Fox Broadcasting Company and FremantleMedia North America (including other Doe defendants). In the complaint (2011 WL 2870835), filed July 20, 2011 in California state court, Fuller alleges that Simon Cowell created X Factor, “a singing competition television program which was strikingly similar to Idol. In October 2004, X Factor premiered on British television, which constituted an infringement of Fuller’s intellectual property rights in the Idol franchise.” Fuller and his production companies then filed suit against Cowell and his production company. According to Fuller’s complaint, Fox “feared that the dispute between Fuller and Cowell would hurt both shows and would undermine the large profits Fox would realize from American Idol. Accordingly, in order to protect its investment in both American Idol and X Factor, Fox encouraged Fuller and Cowell to a settle their disputes amicably.”

Fuller further alleges that Fox, in order to induce a settlement between Fuller and Cowell (and their respective companies) “promised, among other things, to give Fuller an executive producer credit on the X Factor show and to pay Fuller an executive producer fee ‘commensurate with his duties and stature in the entertainment industry.’” Fuller and Cowell did indeed settle their lawsuit. Fuller alleges that he settled his suit in reliance on the promises made by Fox and Fremantle. According to the complaint, in the settlement the parties agreed that Cowell would remain a judge on American Idol for at least five more seasons and X Factor would not air in the United States until 2011. Fuller is now suing for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel and declaratory relief.

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