In a blog post last year we discussed The Seven Network’s (Seven) failed attempt to obtain an interlocutory injunction against The Nine Network (Nine), alleging that The Hotplate infringed Seven’s copyright in My Kitchen Rules. The crux of the dispute was the similarity in format, with Seven arguing that it owned the copyright separately in both the original format and production elements of My Kitchen Rules, as well as in the physical production “bibles” and related documents.
Now, Seven and Nine have reportedly reached a mutually-agreed settlement. Nine has agreed to not produce any further series of the program, nor to ever broadcast or redistribute its first series; and both sides will pay their own legal costs. Whilst both parties purport to be pleased with this outcome, the result appears to be more favourable for Seven.
It is notoriously difficult to establish copyright infringement in Australia when it comes to TV formats and the mere fact that two programs have the same premise, or similar features, is unlikely to be sufficient to demonstrate infringement. The Courts have considered the question on several occasions, including in Green v Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand  All ER 1056 and Nine Film & Television Pty Ltd v Ninox Television Ltd  FCA 1404. For more information and practical tips on protecting formats, see our original post.