This is a funny opinion for four reasons. First of all, there is the always interesting dichotomy between idea and expression. Second, it's about tardigrades, the cute microscopic “water bears” with extraordinary physical properties. Third, it's about Star Trek, one of my favorite series. And fourth, the statement contains numerous Easter eggs for Star Trek fans.
The plaintiff created a video game called Tardigrades (Epoch of Birth) that featured a tardigrade traveling in space. He complained about a 3-episode arc in Star Trek: Discovery that contained a space tardigrade called "Ripper". Both narratives draw on well-documented scientific facts about tardigrades, such as their ability to survive in adverse conditions.
The court says "scientific facts are not protected by copyright because they are part of public space and thus do not form the basis of an infringement suit," including their ability to survive in space. The court adds:
Extending the well-known ability of tardigrades to survive in space to include the ability to travel in space is an unprotected idea. If Abdin owned the idea of a space-traveling tardigrade exclusively, this court would wrongly withdraw that idea from the public domain and naturally stifle creativity from the scientific fact that tardigrades can survive the vacuum of space.
The representations of Adbin's Tardigrade and Ripper also differ significantly:
There are also scenes of a fair: “The science fiction genre usually includes“ stick ”themes such as space travel, supernatural powers, war games, alien discovery and space adventures. For example, topics such as spaceships and space exploration have been commonplace in the science fiction genre for at least the early 20th century. Alien encounters are also a generic topic that appears routinely throughout the science fiction genre. Copyright also doesn't protect generic topics and storylines, aliens or advanced technology. "So:
Here we have little problem in concluding that many of the alleged similarities in the parties' works (eg, spaceship use, space travel, and alien encounters) are “unprotectable elements that, of course, derive from the subject of a work rather than from one devoted to the creativity of the author. “Likewise, the basic idea of a tardigrade moving in space is a natural extension of the known ability of the tardigrade to survive in space. Similarly, the idea of a tardigrade making space travel easier is not protected either.
The court took into account some superficial overlaps in the characters:
While the characters share some traits in common such as hair color, race, and occupation, the video game's many characters share a wide range of physical traits, and the suggestion that a copyright infringement claim may be based on such common and common traits is “highly illogical . ”
The court also discussed the overall concept and feel. The video game is more about solving puzzles in space. The TV series draws on and expands the rich Star Trek universe.
The court concludes:
After extracting the unprotected elements from Abdin's video game – the scientific facts, general ideas, science fiction subjects that make up Scènes à Faire, and generalized character traits – we believe that the video game and discovery are not essentially similar since the protectable elements described above are significantly different.
Opinion doesn't make many new lessons on the dichotomy between idea and expression. Still, it's fun to read and nice to see the dish tell Star Trek: Discovery:
Some Star Trek Easter Eggs in Mind
Some of the unsubstantiated allusions in the opinion:
- "In the final round of Star Trek-related litigation, we're being asked to boldly go where no court has been before."
- "As Spock and Captain James T. Kirk aptly put it in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Paramount Pictures 1982):" (t) The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. . . or the one. & # 39; ”(BIS: there is literally a book chapter on that line).
- "Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek: The Return of the Archons, Star Trek: The Original Series (1967) (" Without freedom of choice there is no creativity. ")."
- "The suggestion that a copyright infringement lawsuit can be based on such general and common characteristics is" highly illogical. "Spock, Star Trek: The Omega Fame, Star Trek: The Original Series (1968)."
Also five links to StarTrek.com.
Spock gets 6 references in the opinion and Captain Kirk only gets 3rd (Picard doesn't get any). Spock's father Sarek receives 2 references. Klingons are referenced 13 times and Vulcans 6 times.
I got the strong impression that the judge and staff enjoyed working on this opinion.
Case quote: Abdin v CBS Broadcasting Inc., 2020 WL 4743018 (2nd Cir. August 17, 2020)