It has made you weep, it has made you cry – it’s made you think that keeping a supply of truffle oil and chia seeds in the pantry makes your culinary skills surpass that piece of toast you burnt last week. MKR (My Kitchen Rules for all the uninitiated out there) by Channel 7 is the show that usually fills the void between seasons of MasterChef. Channel 9 now wants a piece of the pie and Channel 7 isn’t happy about it. Introducing the real battle of the season; MKR v Hotplate.*
Channel 7 is taking Channel 9 to court (the Federal Court) for airing HotPlate, a show that bears a remarkable similarity to MKR, and which Channel 7 alleges infringes upon a host of intellectual property rights owned by Channel 7. Channel 7 claims that it has copyright in the literary production materials underlying MKR and ‘dramatic works’ such as elements of plot incidents, plotlines and sounds in each episode.
What is Copyright?
Copyright refers to the bundle of rights that artists, writers, filmmakers and really anyone out there have in relation to works of their own creation. It is something which exists automatically – you don’t have to ‘apply’ for Copyright to any government authority or pay a fee to hold copyright. You just need to create! The general idea behind copyright is that you can’t copyright merely an idea or if it doesn’t exist in something original.
The well-seasoned viewer will immediately notice some striking similarities; both Hotplate and MKR have teams and are judged by a two chef panel while other contestants make scathing comments about the victims’ flaccid souffle.
Sound familiar? It is! Hotplate and MKR follow a winning formula – that heady mix of competitiveness, crushing defeat and the sweet sweet smell of victory that we all love and that keeps us tuning in night after night. Remember The Block? The Weakest Link? The Voice? All these shows have teams or individuals who fight it out to the best singer, dancer, trivia-master or novice chef.
If all Hotplate does is follow the formula of competition and judgment followed by MKR, then Channel 7 faces an uphill battle to demonstrate that Channel 9 has infringed upon any of its intellectual property rights. It really comes down to the ability of Channel 7 to show that Hotplate has copy-pasted more than just the standard reality TV show formula.
As it stands, the Federal Court recently refused Channel 7’s urgent injunction to stop Channel 9 from broadcasting Hotplate. Stay tuned to see if anyone will be shown the door!
If you have questions about copyright or would like to find out how to better protect your intellectual property, our IP lawyers would be happy to assist, just give LegalVision a call on 1300 544 755.
*Seven Network (Operations) Limited v Endemol Australia Pty Limited  FCA 800.