Los Angeles, CA – Copyright attorneys for Tokyo Broadcasting System (“TBS”) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit at the Los Angeles Federal District Court, accusing American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (“ABC”) of copyright infringement over its “Wipeout” television show. TBS created and aired its Japanese reality television shows “Takeshi’s Castle,” “Most Extreme Elimination Challenge” (“MXC”), “Sasuke,” “Kunoichi,” “Ninja Warrior” and “Women of Ninja Warrior.” TBS began airing “Takeshi’s Castle” in Japan from 1986 to 1989, which “involves laymen contestants who compete in a variety of silly physical challenges consisting of huge obstacle courses that most of the contestants are expected to fail. The contestants’ failed attempts to complete the challenges often look painful or ridiculous, but mostly they are comical in nature.” In 2003, “Takeshi’s Castle” was aired in the United States under the “MXC” name on the Spike television network.
TBS alleges that “Defendants had knowledge of and were familiar with the Shows before Defendants created – using that term loosely – ‘Wipeout.’ Indeed, it is a common custom and practice in the United States television industry to obtain copies of and view television programs (especially popular programs) airing in other countries, including Japan, and several of the Shows were and are broadcast in the United States.” The complaint continues by asserting that “before airing ‘Wipeout’ for the first time, Defendants took steps to ensure that a Google search of the terms ‘Takeshi’s Castle,’ ‘Ninja Warrior’ or ‘MXC’ would result in the Google Searcher being directed to ‘Wipeout on ABC’ as a Sponsored Link.” In addition to the copyright infringement claim, TBS asserts causes of action for California Statutory Unfair Competition under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 and common law unfair competition. The case is titled: Tokyo Broadcasting System, Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., CV08-06550 SJO (C.D. Cal. 2008).