CBS Throws Stones at ABC’s ‘Glass House’

Sues ABC for copying 'Big Brother' formula in new reality show

CBS sued ABC to halt the development an upcoming reality show—called The Glass House—that the network claims copycats the long-running reality show Big Brother, according to the Associated Press.

CBS claims the show duplicates the Big Brother formula—including an aspect that allows viewers to vote off contestants who live together in a house—and that ABC intentionally hired 19 of the show's former staffers to work on its new reality program, the Huffington Post reported. 

The suit, which CBS filed May 10 in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, seeks actions against ABC, its affiliated stations and the new show's producers, The New York Times reported. The suit alleges copyright infringement, violation of nondisclosure agreements by former CBS Big Brother staffers, as well as trade secret misappropriation and conspiracy.

The suit claims that The Glass House "replicates every key aspect of Big Brother, including, among other things, its plot, themes, mood, setting, pace, characters, sequence of events," according to The Wall Street Journal.

Bloomberg News reported that CBS is asking for a court order to halt the alleged infringement and unspecified compensatory damages.

ABC replied that CBS’s lawsuit had no merit, saying, “The differences between Glass House and Big Brother are both fundamental and obvious, ranging from Glass House's interactive elements and audience participation to its deployment of cutting-edge technologies."

Suits trying to stop the production of copycat reality shows have been consistently rejected by courts because even small variations in format can be defended as different, the Times noted.