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NBCU Wins Round in ‘Project Runway’ Case

Handing a procedural win to NBC Universal in the case over “Project Runway,” a federal judge on Tuesday rejected Lifetime’s attempt to move the dispute out of state court.

NBC Universal had sued to keep “Project Runway’s” production company, Weinstein Co., from moving the show to the Lifetime cable channel next year after running five seasons on NBCU’s Bravo.

Lifetime, citing copyright issues, had tried to move the matter out of state court where it was filed. The state court judge had ruled there was enough merit in NBC Universal’s case to enjoin the Weinstein Company from exhibiting or promoting the show.

"NBC Universal is pleased that the federal court has rejected Lifetime's untimely procedural maneuvering to get NBCU's Project Runway case out of State Court, where it has always belonged and will now rightfully return," NBC said in a statement.

Federal District Judge Richard J. Sullivan heard oral arguments on Lifetime’s motion on Dec. 18 and issued his ruling Tuesday.

Judge Sullivan said Lifetme waited until well into the state court proceedings before trying to take the issue of copyright to federal court.

“Because Lifetime was aware that its interests might well be implicated by the state court action, but for strategic reasons deferred any attempt to intervene until some three months into the pendency of the litigation, the court finds Lifetime's removal of the action to federal court to be untimely,” the judge said in his short, expedited ruling.

“While we believe that NBC's lawsuit should have remained in the federal court, we will press our copyright claims through our independent lawsuit against NBCU in the federal court, and if necessary, in the NBCU suit in New York State court,” Lifetime said in a statement. “We look forward to this entire matter being resolved in an expeditious manner and remain hopeful that, in the end, Lifetime will be home to ‘Project Runway.’”

(Editor: Baumann)
(1:05 p.m.: Added final three paragraphs)

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