Lawsuit claims "Lie to Me" is a stolen idea

Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:56pm EST

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) Was U.S. network Fox deceitful in the creation of its hit show "Lie to Me?"

John Gertz Prods. says it acquired in 2005 the screen rights to the novel "The Interview Room," by Roderick Anscombe, about a psychiatrist and expert in detecting lies who confronts a challenging patient.

The book was turned into a screenplay entitled "Lie to Lie," according to a complaint filed in LA Superior Court.

In September, 2007, JPG and Anscombe say they pitched the project to Fox and discussed "specific plot lines not only for the pilot episode, but also for subsequent episodes."

They claim to have worked with Fox for three months thereafter to turn the idea into a TV series, at which point "defendants falsely stated to plaintiffs that they were abandoning the project. In reality, defendants did not abandon their efforts to make 'The Interview Room' and 'Lie to Lie' into a television series at all - defendants just wanted to cut plaintiffs out of the deal they made."

JPG and Anscombe are now suing Fox, executive Simon Andreae and Imagine Entertainment, for breach of contract and breach of confidence, for developing a "strikingly similar, if not identical" show.

"Lie to Me," starring Tim Roth, premiered on January 21, 2009 and was seen by more than 12 million viewers. It now averages about 6 million viewers regularly.

Asserting copyright claims over ideas can be a tough road, but some have found success on the breach-of-contract front by alleging defendants had implied contractual obligations to share compensation and credit for successful pitches. In the new lawsuit, JPG says it disclosed its concepts to Fox under such a condition.

Fox had no comment.

(Editing by Zorianna Kit)

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