The Work

December 16, 2008 4:26 PM

Harsh Reality: Plaintiffs Fail to Block NBC Show

Posted by David Bario

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, millions of viewers are expected to tune in to NBC to watch the premiere episode of "Momma's Boys."  The new reality program, which features overbearing mothers and their sons vetting a stable of attractive young women as potential brides, isn't exactly our type of fare (a Newsday review called it "soul-sucking junk").

For the Am Law Daily, the real show came earlier, at a short but crackling Tuedsay hearing in federal court, when Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Orin Snyder beat back a last-minute effort to stop NBC from airing the "Momma's Boys" debut.

While the competition among the women on the show may be fierce, the battle that took place in Judge George Daniels's courtroom in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was mostly one-sided.

Snyder, known for representing folks like Bob Dylan and Jennifer Lopez, spent much of the hearing sitting by calmly as his adversary tried vainly to fend off flack from the judge. It only took an hour and a half for Judge Daniels to side with Snyder and refuse to enjoin NBC from broadcasting the show.

The plaintiffs are Luftu Murat Uckardesler, whose reality show "Perfect Bride" has been a massive hit in his native Turkey, and Global Agency Ltd., a British licensing company. Uckardesler claims to own a United States trademark on the "Perfect Bride" title and to own the copyright to a "reality television format centering on mothers and sons and their attempts to find the 'Perfect Bride.'"

He claims that NBC capitalized on the success of "Perfect Bride" by using that phrase in marketing materials, and that airing "Momma's Boys" would endanger the plaintiffs' ongoing negotiations with an unnamed NBC competitor. Along with a 45-day injunction against NBC airing the show, the plaintiffs are seeking punitive and other damages.

In his bench ruling denying the injunction, Judge Daniels emphasized that the plaintiff had "not demonstrated the likelihood of success on the merits of his claims," and he castigated the plaintiffs for waiting until yesterday to file their complaint.

At the hearing, Snyder was backed by fellow Gibson lawyer Alma Asay and by Daniel Kummer, NBC's vice president for litigation and content protection. The plaintiffs relied on Newark lawyer Evans Anyanwu, retained less than two weeks ago, who spent much of the hearing struggling to explain why his clients waited until yesterday to file their claim. At the hearing, Snyder called Anyanwu's case "laughably infirm." Noting that the show was due to air in less than 10 hours, he said "it is quite literally insane to ask for [an injunction] under those circumstances."

For now, the plaintiffs are proceeding with their underlying infringement claims, and Anyanwu noted that he had hired a larger firm to help with the case if it moves forward. (Approached by the Am Law Daily, a conspicuously well-dressed lawyer accompanying Anyanwu declined to identify his firm.) Given today's hearing, it seems that the plaintiffs could use all the lawyers they can get.

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This is what happens when you make the world think everything is IP. Titles are not even copyrightable (except in Iraq where Paul Bremer threw this in along with kitchen sink) let alone trademarkable. Nor are concepts. But there will always be lawyers willing to take your money...

It's soo sad there are always some one tryoying to stop something to be telvised, just they are GREEDY and wants CASH...

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