Hallford v. Fox Entertainment Group

Intellectual Property

New York Law Journal


Judge William Pauley

The court dismissed Hallford's lawsuit claiming that Fox's television series "Touch" infringed his copyrighted screenplay "Prodigy." Although his amended complaint only asserted infringement of "Prodigy" Hallford argued that "Touch" was a "remolecularized" version of "Prodigy" and his earlier novel "Visionary." In addition to noting that Hallford could not "mix and match" alleged similarities between "Touch" and other works not related to one another, the court found that "Touch" and "Visionary" shared no similarities, so that "Visionary" was entirely dissimilar to both "Touch" and "Prodigy." The court found the average lay observer would not recognize that "Touch" was taken from "Prodigy," and that the two works were different in total concept, overall feel, and setting and pace. Their plots and sequences were substantially different, and their characters not substantially similar. Although boy characters in each have special powers and exhibit symptoms resembling autism, they are fundamentally different. Also, the programs' theme of interconnectedness is not protectible. Further, although both works feature scenes in New York City, the setting of New York is not a protectible element of a copyrighted work.

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