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TV formats win copyright for the first time

Case of the Year 2012: BBC v RTI (Mediaset) and Endemol

A landmark decision in Italy could improve copyright protection for television formats in Europe. In February the IP Court of Rome granted the BBC a preliminary injunction against Endemol and RTI (Mediaset) as it sought to protect its Strictly Come Dancing format.

A BBC-licensed version of the programme had been aired by Italian public broadcaster Rai for over six years. RTI unsuccessfully argued that its format was different and that the BBC's was based on elements widely featured in other shows. Following the injunction the parties negotiated a settlement.

In Europe, format owners looking for protection have had limited success against alleged infringers, and only by bringing actions based on unfair competition or a breach of confidential information. A good example was Endemol's unfair competition case against Banijay over the programme Dilemme in France, which is on appeal.

With the BBC decision in Italy, a European court has now recognised the copyright eligibility of a format based on a basic level of creativity, giving owners IP protection of a basic TV format for the first time.

This case was selected as one of Managing IP’s Cases of the Year for 2012.

To see the rest, click on one of the cases below.

The 10 cases of the year

A fillip for the EU pharmaceutical sector
Relief for trade mark owners in red sole saga
Australian TV streaming service held to be illegal
Smartphone war hits front page in the US
Liberalising the EU’s software market
India allows parallel imports
Victory for fair dealing in Canada
Lacoste loses its trade mark in China
Google prevails in Android attack
EU test case clarifies class headings

Ten you might have missed

Canada: Ambiguous claims can invalidate patents
Russia: Certainty on parallel imports
Italy: TV formats win copyright for the first time
First FRAND cases litigated worldwide
Monsanto loses in Brazil
Data exclusivity backed by Mexican courts
China: A shift over OEM manufacturing
Authors in the US able to reclaim joint copyrights
Germany: Knitted trainers a sign of the future
India: Financial Times loses trade mark

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