KWIKA wins summary judgment in ‘New Girl’ copyright infringement claim

Since 2014, KWIKA partners Michael Kump and Gregory Korn have been representing defendant William Morris Endeavor (WME) Entertainment in an action filed in federal court in Los Angeles concerning the hit Fox television series, “New Girl.” The action was filed by two screenwriters who in 2008 and 2009 submitted copies of their screenplay “Square One” to talent agents at Endeavor Talent Agency (which in 2009 merged with William Morris to become WME Entertainment). Plaintiffs allege that the agents provided the screenplay, or summaries of the screenplay, to various individuals, including Elizabeth Meriwether, the creator of the TV series “New Girl” which premiered on Fox in 2011. In 2014, plaintiffs filed this action for copyright infringement and breach of implied contract (idea theft) against WME and other defendants (mostly Fox entities plus the series’ creator and executive producer).

On June 12, 2015, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the idea theft claim and dismissed the claim with prejudice. The Court held that the writers’ idea theft claim is barred by the statute of limitations, and that the writers failed to allege any facts that would excuse them from timely filing the claim. See summary of Court’s action and full text of ruling.

After the close of discovery, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs’ copyright infringement claim. On December 30, 2015, Judge Wilson issued a 24-page ruling granting defendants’ motion and terminating the action. At the conclusion of his ruling, Judge Wilson held that: “Plaintiffs have not introduced evidence demonstrating a triable issue of fact regarding Defendants’ access to Square One. Moreover, even assuming arguendo that a triable issue of access exists, no reasonable jury could conclude that there are substantial similarities in the plot, sequence of events, characters, mood, pace, setting, theme, or dialogue between Square One and New Girl.”