Writer Stephen Hendricks has filed a $5 million copyright infringement lawsuit in California federal court against BBC and Temple Street Productions for allegedly stealing the idea for “Orphan Black” from his work, The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., reports.
Hendricks claims he emailed a summary of his screenplay “Double Double” to Temple Street in 2004. Co-President David Fortier was allegedly sent both the summary and the actual screenplay, and the writer was told a few weeks later that the studio would “pass.”
In the lawsuit, Hendricks says he discovered that the BBC drama series “Orphan Black” allegedly contains “the same, unusual core copyrightable expression as the Screenplay; i.e. the clandestine development of clones and the resulting journey of the protagonist to discover her origins." Fortier serves as executive producer of the show.
The lawsuit alleges: “Both protagonists are young (early 20s), attractive women who want the same thing: to understand who they are and where they come from"; "The protagonist’s birth certificate is a key clue that makes her suspicious about her origin"; "The recurring theme of clones reproducing is also present in both."
The THR article notes: “Ideas and generic tropes in entertainment aren't protectable. Only expression can't be cloned, and the plaintiff better hope that a judge credits the science fiction trappings as beyond the realm of the obvious.”