Copyright Infringement

CBS Wins Star Trek: Discovery Copyright Infringement Case

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that CBS was not guilty of copyright infringement and that a “Star Trek: Discovery” story arc about a giant tardigrade did not infringe upon the copyright of an unreleased video game that also centered around a giant tardigrade.

Anas Osama Ibrahim Abdin, who owns a copyright for the concept illustrations, descriptions and images for his “Tardigrades” video game, filed the lawsuit against CBS Broadcasting Corp. and Netflix Corp., saying that they infringed upon his copyright.  The court affirmed that the companies were not guilty of infringement because the two works are not substantially similar. They also stated that Abdin’s use of tardigrades covered scientific facts and ideas that cannot be copyrighted.

While three episodes in season one of CBS’ “Star Trek: Discovery” feature an encounter in space with a tardigrade-like creature, Abdin’s game is about a botanist who travels through space after being absorbed by a giant tardigrade. As the court pointed out, it was not clear what the tardigrade’s role would be in Abdin’s game, whereas the Star Trek tardigrade was central in a story arc.

(Bloomberg Law – August 19, 2020 – Blake Brittain)

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