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By Jonathan Stempel
Thu May 10, 2012 8:26pm EDT
(Reuters) - CBS has sued rival ABC, accusing it of cloning its long-running U.S. summer series "Big Brother" with its new reality TV show, "The Glass House."
Thursday's copyright infringement lawsuit contends the new ABC show is a "carbon copy" of "Big Brother" and even employs 19 former producers and staff from that show.
Scheduled to begin airing on June 18, "Glass House" will feature 14 contestants who are filmed continuously with cameras as they live in a large house.
Viewer votes would help decide which contestants must leave the house, with the last contestant remaining winning a six-figure cash award. The U.S. version of "Big Brother" began airing in 2000.
"If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then CBS should take pride in ABC's latest reality television project," which is an "obvious attempt" to capitalize on its success, the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles said.
ABC said the lawsuit has no merit.
"The differences between 'Glass House' and 'Big Brother' are both fundamental and obvious, ranging from 'Glass House''s interactive elements and audience participation to its deployment of cutting edge technologies," a spokeswoman said.
CBS is seeking an injunction to stop ABC from airing 'Glass House,' plus $500,000 for each violation of non-disclosure agreements that former 'Big Brother' staff had signed.
It also accuses the defendants of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract.
The lawsuit was filed by CBS Broadcasting Inc, a unit of CBS Corp against ABC, its parent Walt Disney Co and several individual producers and staff.
The case is CBS Broadcasting Inc v. American Broadcasting Cos et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 12-04073.
(Reporting By Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Andre Grenon)
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