MARCH 9, 2019 | 4 MIN READ

Plaintiff: Discovery, Tardigrades Virtually Same Production

In opposing defendants’ motion to dismiss his copyright case against CBS and Netflix, game developer Anas Abdin says his Tardigrades game and Star Trek: Discovery are substantially “the same production.

Opposition Pleading

Filed in federal court this week, Abdin’s pleading claims:

  • CBS misconstrues legal conclusions from other cases and and misapplies them here.
  • Uses inapplicable tardigrade examples from other media because only Discovery’s tardigrade replicates the concept, look and feel of his game’s version of the creature. In his blog post about the pleading, Abdin boldly claims:
Tardigrades developer Anas Abdin

« Any person watching the two works will instantly see the similarities and even think they are the same production. » — Tardigrades creator Anas Abdin

Templates

The game’s characters and tardigrade clearly served as templates for the derivative characters and creature in Discovery.

  • “Excessive splintering” of the Tardigrades game renders its elements unprotectable by Abdin, an argument he claims would leave CBS without copyright protection for its own Star Trek properties.

DOWNLOAD Anas Abdin’s pleading opposing CBS’ motion to dismiss his copyright infringement lawsuit.
1.3 MB PDF

Axanar Connection

Interestingly, lawyers trying to defend Axanar against a copyright lawsuit brought by CBS and Paramount used a similar argument. The federal judge in that case didn't buy it.

Specific items protected by copyright: Abdin claims the following aspects of Tardigrades constitute the “heart of the work,” taken by Discovery‘s creators and “spun off derivatively”:

  • A human-sized tardigrade capable of instantaneous teleportation across space.
  • Floating blue dots representing space, rejecting CBS’ claim that the visual expression is a common one in science fiction, pointing to The Expanse as a recent example.
  • The crude representation of a tardigrade in Abdin’s game, compared to the realistic depiction in Discovery, doesn’t mean the Trek creators didn’t copy it.
  • Uniforms and spacesuits in Tardigrades that are similar to those depicted in Discovery.

Tardigrades Timetable
JANUARY 8 Discovery begins to find evidence Discovery’s creators knew about the Tardigrades game.
JANUARY 15 Plaintiff’s third amended legal complaint due.
FEBRUARY 12 Defense motion to dismiss is due. Joint Status Letter is also due.
MARCH 5 Plaintiff must file to oppose dismissal motion.
MARCH 12 CBS/Netflix can file to answer Abdin’s opposition.
MARCH 19 End of limited discovery.
DECISION Judge Schofield’s decision is likely due shortly after the end of limited discovery.

Alleged Manufactured Evidence

Abdin refutes CBS’ allegation in its motion to dismiss that he ”manufactured similarities“:

  • Didn’t fabricate gay relationships: In an affidavit attached to his pleading, Abdin does concede he erred in his legal complaint because he “inadvertently mixed up” two male characters in a homosexual relationship but it’s evident the game depicts a gay relationship that CBS ignores. ”Nothing has been fabricated,“ he says.
  • Glory holes and ‘out of touch’: Abdin criticized CBS’ insensitivity to gay culture because it didn’t recognize that a bathroom encounter between two of Abdin’s characters in fact demonstrated they had a homosexual relationship like that copied by Discovery.
  • Spliced video clips CBS alleges were edited together to create relationships that doesn’t exist were only done to demonstrate the similarity to Abdin’s “body of work.”

Not Giving Up on Netflix

Abdin’s pleading also isn’t willing to let Netflix off the hook for its benefitting from CBS’ infringement of Tardigrades.

Awarding Attorneys’ Fees

Abdin’s attorneys also don’t concede they aren’t eligible to be paid from damages assessed by the court should Abdin win his case, even though the same law that disqualifies him from seeking statutory damages also makes his case ineligible to recover attorneys' fees as damages.

Bottom Line

Motions to dismiss are based only on points of law not of fact, so this phase of the case is a battle of legal case citations to be considered by the judge in deciding whether the case can proceed. Her decision could come later this month.

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