No Laughing Matter: Why Conan O’Brien Doesn’t Want His Upcoming Trial to Be Fully Open to the Public

Mar 8, 2019  •  Post A Comment

It seems one of the few things comedians aren’t eager to joke about, surprisingly, is jokes. More specifically, the stealing of jokes.

That’s one takeaway from the upcoming Conan O’Brien trial, scheduled for May, in which he’s accused of stealing jokes from another comedian. The Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. reports that O’Brien’s attorney brought a motion Thursday to keep the public from hearing sensitive financial information that’s expected to surface during the proceeding.

“The copyright lawsuit comes from Alex Kaseberg, who survived the summary judgment round and will tell a jury that Conan writers took material about Caitlyn Jenner, Tom Brady and the Washington Monument from his social media feed and blog,” THR reports. “At trial, O’Brien’s production company will attempt to convince the jury it didn’t have access to Kaseberg’s jokes and that those jokes were independently created anyway.”

THR adds that O’Brien’s attorneys “hope to frame the jokes — e.g. ‘Tom Brady said he wants to give his MVP truck to the man who won the game for the Patriots. So enjoy that truck, Pete Carroll.’ — as hardly too original in the first place.”

In an earlier memorandum in the case, O’Brien’s legal team stated: “Kaseberg’s jokes are negligible and trivial variations on unprotectable ideas, preexisting works, or public domain works, such that they do not contain the requisite amount of creative input to qualify for copyright protection.”

THR adds: “Patty Glaser, attorney for O’Brien, hopes to bifurcate the trial so that the question of liability goes first. If a jury finds copyright infringement, then the question of damages would proceed.”

The O’Brien team is reportedly concerned that disclosure of financial information might prejudice the jury in a unified trial.

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