Fox's 'New Girl' faces ‘blatant plagiarism’ charges

The popular, quirky TV show 'New Girl' slapped with a lawsuit for intellectual property theft.

Image via thetechreviewer.com

Screenwriters Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold have accused the hot show “New Girl" of stealing ideas from their pilot script. They are suing the show's creator Elizabeth Meriwether, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC, executive-producer Peter Chernin, executive-producer Jacob Kasdan and Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. for plagiarism, claiming that "New Girl" is a rip-off of their script.

This lawsuit demands monetary compensation, credit for the show and an injunction to halt filming and distribution. The Huffington Post reported that the two writers allegedly shopped the script for a pilot called “Square One” through William Morris Endeavor, where it received interest. The writers even proposed Zooey Deschanel as the lead for the comedy. Then, just a few months later, WME stopped returning their calls.

In 2011, the duo was shocked to see the concept of their script under development. Once "New Girl" was aired to rave reviews, Counts and Gold retained a lawyer and informed the defendants that they were infringing upon the content of "Square One." In fact, Fox reportedly made the writers a $10,000 settlement offer, but they refused the money.

"Square One" is actually based on Counts' real-life experience of moving into a bachelor pad after finding out her husband was having an affair. The lawsuit states, "Any differences between the Square One scripts and New Girl are so small and insignificant that they cannot be afforded copyright protection, and are, in fact, nothing more than transparent attempts to hide Defendants’ blatant plagiarism."

The documents list many similarities between "Square One" and "New Girl," including the following: "both protagonists are awkward, quirky women around the age of thirty, the name of the protagonist’s unfaithful beau in each work is Spencer, the plot of both works revolves around the protagonist moving in with three guys, the three new guy roommates in each work have identical personality traits and the best friend in each work is named CeCe or has the initials C.C."

According to the lawsuit, Counts and Gold are entitled to more than money. It states that an after-the-fact check would be inadequate to compensate them for the damages done, and that they will seek credit as the show's true creators and a public apology as well as compensatory, statutory, punitive and exemplary damages.

To read the full court document about the lawsuit, click here.

For more on intellectual property theft, check out these articles:

IP: Planning and forecasting your intellectual property needs

7 steps to consider before licensing intellectual property agreements

Technology's disruptive effect on copyright law

Intellectual property tips for new businesses in the New Year

Contributing Author

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Amanda Ciccatelli

Amanda G. Ciccatelli is a Contributing Writer for InsideCounsel, where she covers the patent litigation space. Amanda earned a B.A. in Communications and Journalism from...

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