CBS loses bid to block ABC’s ‘Glass House’ premiere

CBS tried to shutter ABC’s reality series “The Glass House,” but a federal judge on Friday said the show will go on.

Claiming the ABC series is a “Big Brother” copycat, CBS filed for a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against “Glass House” that would have blocked its Monday premiere. The network had already sued ABC and “Glass House” producers claiming copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets; that suit is still pending. Both shows feature contestants interacting in a house wired with hidden cameras and microphones.

But Judge Gary Feess refused to grant CBS’ request for an injunction against “Glass House” that would have delayed the premiere. ABC has already promoted the show and made the first episode available to journalists online.

The judge went further, saying from the bench that he was “not persuaded” that CBS would prevail in its claims during the trial and that the premise behind “Big Brother” could not be copyrighted. Judges are generally loath to grant injunctions against TV shows on copyright grounds because such measures are seen as anti-competitive and, given the derivative nature of so much television programming, hard to justify in individual cases.


In a statement, CBS vowed to continue its fight and made it clear that its real mission may be to send a message to wayward producers as much as to stop “Glass House” in particular. Many “Glass House” employees - including the executive producer - previously worked on “Big Brother.” A summer staple for CBS, “Big Brother” is hosted by Julie Chen, the wife of CBS boss Leslie Moonves.

“We appreciate the Court’s continuing consideration of this case and our request for an injunction,” the network wrote. “Win, lose or draw on the TRO, we fully intend to proceed with our claims against Disney/ABC for copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets over ‘The Glass House,’ which may still warrant more injunction proceedings depending on the content of each episode. At the same time, we will move forward with our individual claims for liability and liquidated damages against any current ‘The Glass House’ producer who violated their Big Brother confidentiality agreement.”

An ABC spokeswoman said the network would have no comment until the judge issued a written ruling.


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Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT