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.
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Italy: TV formats win copyright for the first time
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Authors in the US able to reclaim joint copyrights
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