Banijay to counter claim in formats dispute

Formats-logo-460_2all against 1Banijay has issued a strongly-worded rebuttal to Abot Hameiri’s copyright infringement claim, and said it plans to counterclaim against the FremantleMedia-backed Israeli prodco.

Banijay said it was “surprised and offended” by Abot Hameiri’s allegations, and, based upon the £40,000 (US$50,000) being sought, questioned whether the case is a “nothing more than a nuisance claim”.

Production and distribution group Banijay said that it plans to counter claim against Abot Hameiri, and will seek “damages for their attempt to damage Banijay’s [All Against 1] format, and current and potential sales”.

Banijay responded today, following Monday’s news that Abot Hameiri was taking the format dispute to court, and the details of the claim, which TBI uncovered yesterday. “Banijay is very confident that this claim will fail and remains adamant that All Against 1 is different from the format now known as Best of All,” the firm said in today’s statement.

The argument revolves around Banijay’s All Against 1 format that Abot Hameiri alleges is based upon its Are You Smarter Than the Crowd (aka Best of All) format, which the Israeli prodco unsuccessfully pitched to Banijay in 2014.

“Banijay is surprised and offended by and strongly repudiates the allegations made against its format All Against 1,” the company said this morning. “All Against 1 is a very successful entertainment format created through a collaboration between Nordisk Film TV Denmark, Nordisk Film TV Norway and Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, a development of the Nordisk Film TV Norway format King of Chess.

“Banijay strongly defends its position with regards to All Against 1 and looks forward to defending itself in court against the current claims.”

Banijay said the dispute will be a UK County Court matter, not a UK High Court case, and said this is indicative of a weakness in the Abot Hameiri case.

The Abot Hameiri team countered that the case is lodged with the High Court, but that the UK legal system allows that court to refer the matter down to County Court level if it deems that the best course of action, and the party making the complaint must name the County Court they would want to hear the matter should that happen.

“Banijay’s lawyers also appear have not read the claim form properly,” Abot Hameiri said. “The stamp over the seal on the claim form clearly says “Chancery Chambers”, and that it has been issued in the “High Court of Justice”. The reference number for the claim starts with ‘HC’ denoting that it is a High Court claim.”

Banijay also noted that it has note been served with a Particulars of Claim Form, the legal document that outlines the specifics of the claim. The Abot Hameiri team told TBI yesterday that this document is being prepared.

“Abot Hameiri has failed to serve any Particulars of Claim on Banijay – all Banijay has is a Claim Form which provides no details,” Banijay said. “However, the value of the claim has been estimated by Abot Hameiri as being £40,000 and Banijay would question whether this small amount indicates nothing more than a ‘nuisance claim’.”

In what has become a bitter war of words, Abot Hameiri responded to Banijay’s statement, and said it was not concerned by the prospect of a counterclaim.

“We are not at all concerned about a possible counterclaim, which we are confident will fail, especially as Banijay has still to produce any evidence that their programme is original.

“We are surprised by Banijay’s reaction to the issue of proceedings against them, given that we have tried to engage them in discussions to resolve this dispute without the need for legal proceedings for several weeks before the claim was issued,” the prodco added.

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